Halloween is one of the oldest holidays still being celebrated today. The roots of Halloween or All Hallows Eve can be traced back over 2,000 years to the Druids, a Celtic culture found in the United Kingdom and Northern Europe prior to the Roman Empire. Their festival of Samhain, a Celtic Fire festival celebrated October 31st, honoured the dead, marked the end of the year and celebrated the harvest. Celts believed the worlds of the living and dead overlapped this night and the souls of the dead roamed the streets. Gifts and treats were left out to pacify the dead and ensure next year’s plentiful harvest. People would also dress up in animal skins and heads to scare off evil spirits. These ancient customs, over time, have evolved into the dressing in costumes and “trick or treating” we practice today.
When carving pumpkins why not make a special treat with the remnants. You can wash, season and roast the seeds for a tasty snack. Cut the pumpkin into bite sized squares, bake at 350o F, then add seasonings such as bacon bits, peppers or brown sugar, drizzle with melted butter and enjoy.
During the time of the Roman Empire, the harvest festival honouring Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit trees and orchards, was incorporated with Samhain and the tradition of bobbing for apples was introduced.
All Saint’s Day falling on November 1st is widely celebrated as a Christian holiday.
Halloween is a popular and wide spread event in North America being the second most commercially successful event after Christmas. While still being celebrated in Scotland and Ireland with bonfires and traditional foods, it is mostly overlooked in other nations. In recent years the spread of Western culture has introduced some elements of the North American Halloween celebration into other countries.