Did you know that Hallowe’en is an Ancient Irish Festival?
Did you know….that Hallowe’en is an ancient Irish festival?
‘Samhain’ which directly translated from Irish to English means the month of ‘November’ and ‘Hallowe’en’ in Irish is ‘Oiche na Samhain’ or directly ‘Night of November’. You could spend hours reading up on the meaning of Samhain, the implications in Irish Folklore and the resulting superstitions and fables but in terms of what we now know as the festival of Hallowe’en, it is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts.
In the 8th century, Pope Gregory III dictated that November 1 was a date to honor all saints and martyrs. The holiday, All Saints’ Day, incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later shortened to Hallowe’en.
To commemorate the date, Druids built huge bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and thankfully this has evolved into Hallowe’en as we know it today which is a more community-based event characterized by child friendly activities such as trick-or-treating. Originally, this was a typical activity for the poor who would call door to door looking for food from the more wealthy in the community in return for prayers for their soul.
A very common sight in modern day Hallowe’en is the carved pumpkin, also known as Jack O’ Lanterns, but even they originally began as carved turnips and were used to frighten off unwanted travellers. So everything you see in modern day Hallowe’en has a history and a reason behind its existance other than fun and festivity which makes it all the more interesting!