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The origins of Halloween

26th October 2015 Print

For most of us Halloween is all about fun, but its ancient origins are more sober.

Today we think of Halloween as a fun tradition that’s mainly for the kids. They get the chance to dress up – even on a school night – and go out trick or treating, gathering a hoard of sweets and chocolates from the neighbourhood. They usually bag enough sweets to last them until Christmas!

The long tradition of All Hollows Eve

But what’s the real meaning behind Halloween, and where did it start? The tradition has Celtic roots and its earliest celebrations were in Ireland. Druids believed that on 31 October, the last day of their calendar year, all the spirits of those people who had died during the preceding year would rise from the dead and roam around the earth before the New Year began on 1 November.

The night became known as All Hollows Eve, and was established as a day in the pagan calendar to honour the dead. People feared the presence of evil spirits as it was believed that Lord Samhain, the spirit of Darkness, would search the earth looking for spirits to take to the underworld. So the tradition of leaving food and treats outside the door built up, in order to placate any evil spirits. Turnips would be carved and placed outside with embers to make them glow, and keep away the souls of dead spirits – hence the tradition of pumpkin carving was begun.

Got your pumpkin yet? Here's a cool pumpkin carving stencil from Harry Potter Wish List!

As a way of neutralising pagan beliefs about All Hollows Eve or Halloween, the Catholic Church created All Saints Day on 1 November to honour saints and All Souls Day on 2 November to pray for the souls of the dead. The hope was that the Church holy days would negate the need for people to celebrate Halloween. However, as we are all aware today, Halloween is still very much ‘alive and kicking’.

Halloween today

For most of us, Halloween is just an excuse for a party. In the States, it ranks only second to Christmas in terms of consumer spending with more than $7.5 billion spent in 2014 on costumes, decorations, candy and party paraphernalia.


Every year, Halloween costumes become ever more creative

But there’s still a connection with the ancient traditions. Many spiritual mediums believe that the veil between the world of the dead and the world of the living is at its thinnest on Halloween, allowing spirits to roam the earth freely, so it’s not surprising that many people choose to have a medium reading on Halloween itself – to make contact with their loved ones who have died.

Arranging a medium or psychic reading used to be quite difficult – you’d have to know someone who did readings in your local area. Today, it couldn’t be simpler, with many psychics and mediums offering their reading services online. TheCircle is a website that provides reading services of all different kinds – including medium, psychic, tarot, astrology and angel readings – through its network of affiliated and approved readers. So it’s a great place to find the type of reading you are looking for and if you want to make contact with the spirit of a relative or friend who has passed away, it seems that Halloween could be the most opportune time to try.

More Photos - Click to Enlarge

Pumpkins Halloween