When most people think of Halloween they think of trick or treating, pumpkin carving, fancy dress, and other fun family activities. However the real ancient origins of Halloween are not as sweet or fun-filled as what traditional customs suggest.

Where it began

The story goes back 2,000 years ago to the Gaelic-Festival of Samhain which in Old Irish language means "Summers end". For the ancient Celtics this day represented the last day before the beginning of winter, the end of the harvest, and the darker half of the year. Like other Irish and Welsh Pagan festivals such as Belthane and Calan Mai, Samhain or Halloween as it's more popularity known is a time when veil between this world and the spirit world is at its most thin.

This meant that spirits could more easily enter our world and were more active. These spirits were both feared and revered and people would often call upon Gods help whenever they would approach the places where the spirits dwelt. It was believed in the ancient times that the spirits needed to be gratified so that the people and their animals survived the cold winter months, and offerings of food, drink and crops were often left outside of their homes for the spirits.

Modern Day Halloween

What we know today as trick or treat, originated in the 16th century in Scotland and Ireland as Guising, and involved people dressing up in disguise and going from door to door, singing songs and reciting verses in exchange for food.

It is thought that the food or offerings were then given as gifts to the spirits. People believed that impersonating the spirits gave them protection from any ghouls with nefarious motives. However, people did still enjoy some of the traditional customs that Halloween is known for example apple bobbing and nut roasting, though they did throw in a few extra creepy activities such as scrying, and dream interpretations.


Tonight you might not be leaving food out for a witch, or in a few months a mince pie for Santa, and many don't believe in the supernatural at all. However, it is nice to think that some of the old Celtic customs still play a big part in what Halloween is all about for people, and is a reason to get dressed up and pull some thriller moves at your local fancy dress party.

To all those participating in the spooky festivities have fun, be safe and happy Halloween!