The origins of Halloween

Posted by Nathan Lloyd | 31/10/2015 | Category: Food

The spooky time of Halloween is nearly upon us and although it feels like a modern phenomenon, it is actually one of the world’s oldest holidays.  Dating back to the eighth century, Halloween has its roots in an Irish Celtic festival known as Samhain (summers’ end) which celebrated the end of the harvest season.

The name Halloween, comes from the shortening of the phrase - All Hallows Eve, and the Celts believed that on the night of 31st October, ghosts of their dead would revisit the mortal world and large bonfires were lit in order to ward off any evil spirits. 

As an extra deterrent to keep these evil spirits at bay, it was thought that the practice of wearing a disguise would confuse those coming back from the dead seeking vengeance on their living enemies.

And as well as dressing up at Halloween, other favourites such as apple bobbing, trick or treating and pumpkin carving all have their roots in traditions going back hundreds of years.

Across the world, different nations celebrate Halloween in a myriad of ways.  In China, food and water is placed in front of photos of family members who have departed, while bonfires and lanterns are lit in order to light the paths of the spirits as they travel the earth on Halloween night.

The Germans strangely put away their knives on Halloween night as they do not to want to risk harming, or being harmed by returning spirits.

Across the pond in North America and Canada, Halloween is an important date in the calendar and is only superseded by Christmas for sales of decorations and candy.

Over in Blighty, it is thought that the trick or treating scene viewed in the 1982 film ET really introduced a British audience to the idea of celebrating Halloween.  This interest has grown year on year and from the £12m we all spent on Halloween in 2001, it is estimated that British shoppers will fork out as much as £330m celebrating the event on Saturday night.

So, if you are looking for inspiration for gruesome costumes, creepy creations or terrifying recipes, then pop over to our Halloween website to find everything you will need to dress up as an inconsistent zombie or a UK ghost.

About The Author: Rob Smyth

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