Halloween: How did it get started? Who started it? Questions that may or may not have crossed your mind. Interestingly enough, it didn’t start with witches and monsters; it started with the change of seasons.
The ancient Celtic festival of Samhain is where it started. Villagers would light a ceremonial bon fire, perform animal sacrifices and wear costumes, mostly animal skin and fur. The Irish celebrated their New Year in honor of the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the cold, dark winters ahead on Nov. 1. Many believed that the day before New Years, Oct. 31st, was a day where the line between the living and the dead became blurred. The ghost would come back to earth on this day and would give priests the ability to see the future, but would also cause mischief like animals going missing and homes mysteriously catching fire. After the Romans took over in 43 A.D., they kept all of the Irish traditions the same except celebrated Pomera, the goddess of fruit and trees. Hence, the tradition of bobbing for apples.
Also, the name “Halloween” came from the Christians in 100 A.D. Pope Boniface IV made a second day called “All Souls Day” to honor the spirits’ departure after the New Year. Later, it was called “All Hallows Eve” and eventually became “Halloween” and was combined with the Celtic holiday on October 31st.
America, new at the time in 1504, was skeptical of the idea of Halloween due to Protestant influence. Later, they would start to accept the idea of a harvest festival. Halloween officially kicked off in America when millions of Irish immigrated during the infamous potato famine.
According to a 2011 study, Americans now spend over $6 billion a year on Halloween.