Why and when did Halloween start

Halloween: Origins and Transformation of a Holiday

Pagan origin

Archaeologists are still looking for traces of the origins of Halloween, for example at the Hill of Ward earthworks (originally Tlachtgha) in County Meath, Ireland. The festival seems to be a direct descendant of the Celtic festival Samhain, which was celebrated from October 31st to November 1st and heralded the beginning of the new year.

On the evening of October 31st, the end of the old year, ghosts (not to mention fairies, demons and other beings) allegedly roamed the earth. The gates between our world and the spirit world were then wide open so that they began their way into afterlife.

Traditionally, big bonfires were lit at important locations. Traces of such festive fires can also be found in Tlachtgha. It is possible that offerings were burned in it or they symbolized the sun.

Celtic costumes

It was also the Celts who started the Halloween tradition of costuming, according to the American Folklife Center of the US Library of Congress. The Celts wore animal skins to hide from the spirits, or they blackened their faces and put on masks to represent ancestors who had already passed into the spirit world.

Presumably some of the celebrants also disguised themselves as ghosts and went from door to door, where they performed little follies in exchange for food and drink. This custom may have been traced back to an even older tradition of putting food and drink outside the door for fairies and other supernatural beings. It is very likely that today's trick-or-treating (trick or treating) goes back to these customs.