Posts Tagged ‘halloween’


Of Celts, the dearly departed, candy, and other hallowed things.

by Candice Smith on October 16th, 2018
Of Celts, the dearly departed, candy, and other hallowed things. Cover Image

Halloween was a holiday that I loved and hated when I was a kid…I found it a little nerve-wracking to come up with a good costume idea, to dress up and go out in front of people, and to go knock on doors. BUT–the candy. I loved Halloween because of the outrageous amount of candy you could get, for free, by just walking around for a couple hours. It was unbelievable, like a dream come true. Now that I’m older, I can buy my own candy and satiate my sweet tooth like a normal person, but I still enjoy handing out candy to the kids who come to my house, seeing them in all their spooky spectacularness. Just how did this fantastic holiday come to be? I’m glad you asked!

As I have before (for Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas) I went to the excellent America’s Favorite Holidays by Bruce Forbes to find out. As is often the case with days we celebrate, the beginnings of our Halloween can be found centuries ago, and is related to the change in seasons and how that affected everyday life. The Celtic people in Ireland and the British Isles (ca. 500 BCE)¬† celebrated a harvest-season festival called Samhain; this took place on November 1, a day that was essentially the beginning of their new year. This was the time when the agricultural season was ending and the harvest was brought in, and animals would be slaughtered so that they didn’t have so many to feed over the winter; in essence, their new year began when their work ended, they were flush with food, and they were getting ready to face the coming dark and cold season. They would have a huge three day celebration where accounts were settled, legal matters decided, food shared and bonds strengthened. This last hurrah of the year began the day before Samhain, October 31. In addition to the annual festivities, this was also an important time of year spiritually. No doubt they were influenced by the lengthened periods of darkness and the dying off of flora as winter approached, and they believed that the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead was less substantial. Read the rest of this entry »