Of all the mainstay holidays that populate our year, Halloween is one of the oldest, dating back thousands of years. Thanksgiving, 4th of July, Easter and even Christmas are youngsters by comparison.
Originally starting out as an ancient Celtic holiday, Druidic priests regarded the day as the end of the year and a celebration for the year’s harvest. October 31 was the first day of a three-day celebration called Samhain, meaning “the end of summer”. It marked the passage from the season of the sun to the season of darkness, but was also a festival for honoring the dead. The Celts believed the laws of space and time were suspended on this night, allowing the spirit world to crossover and intermingle with the living world.
As the story goes, the disembodied spirits of all those who had passed away throughout the preceding year would come back on that night in search of living bodies to possess for the coming year. Apparently, it was their only hope for an afterlife. To protect themselves, the Celtic priests developed spells, charms and ritualistic burning sacrifices to appease the wandering spirits that roamed the night.
Of course, being alive you certainly didn’t want to get possessed, so on the night of October 31st, people would put out the fires in their fireplaces and furnaces, to make their homes cold and undesirable to the wandering spirits. To complete the ritual, they would then dress in ghoulish costumes, parading around the neighborhoods causing ruckus and destruction in order to scare off the spirits looking for a warm body to inhabit.