Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Real History of Halloween

Ever wonder what the real deal is concerning this holiday? The paranormal aura and mystique surrounding Halloween connects to a series of beliefs, traditions and superstitions. What is the actual origin of Halloween?  It appears to date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain.  By Celts we refer to the people who lived approximately 2,000 years ago in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrating their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer harvest and the beginning of dark, cold winter, a time of year often associated with human death.
Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, believing that ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future.  The Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.

During these celebrations, Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they put out earlier that evening. This symbolic lighting was done from the sacred bonfire to serve as a protection during the coming winter.
By 43 A.D., the Romans had conquered a majority of Celtic territory. During the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain. The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of "bobbing" for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.
By the 800’s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 as All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. The pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (All Saints' Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in 1000 A.D., the church designated November 2 All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils.
Tales of the supernatural are ever popular during the Halloween season. Black Opal Books recently published WITCH WISH, my YA novel with a supernatural twist. If you are a teenager or have one in the family, you might like to order this book:
This follows THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER, available in 
all e-books as well as print.


Also available, DARK MOON RISING, Gothic romantic suspense from Luminosity for adult reading, available in all e-book formats and print as well.

Are there any books that you consider good Halloween reading choices? If so, please share with us.


  1. Hi Jacqueline,
    Interesting history. Celts had a big influence on history. Irish monks saved a lot of classics when Viking invaders raided Ireland (and often settled in the Celtic lands). Some historians think St. Brendan discovered America (hence the name of the survey starship in my Doctor Carlos stories). The Romans didn't have it easy in the land of the Celts either: Queen Boudica led an uprising against the Romans and almost succeeded. I'm sure there are other events in Celtic history that aren't common knowledge.
    Thank you for such a good post!

  2. Steven,

    Thank you for your informed comments on the Celts in history. You add much to this discussion.

  3. I'm always interested in how different religions/belief systems blend in order to stay relevant with their people. I enjoyed the history you provided, Jacquie.

    1. Thank you, Susan. It is interesting to me as well. Each religion seems to have adopted ideas from previous one.

  4. Thanks for sharing. Some of this I knew, but s lot was new information for me. :)

  5. Great info Jacquie!
    Thanks for sharing
    Good luck and God's blessings

  6. Thanks for the history of Halloween, Jacqueline. And now they want to move Halloween to the Saturday before the end of the month. Doesn't quite fit with the history, does it?

    1. Hi Maris,

      I don't think so either. It's for the convenience of parents obviously.