How did Halloween start?

Friends of Training Centre Raya – London, despite the fact that we have less sunlight during the day now, the autumn season still has its wonderful moments: the golden leaves, the cosy twilight of the evening illuminated by the lights of the last garden parties, the colourful umbrellas in the rain and Halloween of course, a holiday that kids love so much.

Do we know where does it come from? Once, around 2000 years ago, Celts inhabited the lands of today’s Great Britain, Ireland and northern France. Before the advent of Christianity, their most important festivals were associated with the end of the harvest and the welcoming of winter as this was the season when everything either fell asleep or died. The Samhain (pronounced “sou-when”) festival was the one marking the beginning of the time when the ghosts of the dead could visit our world. On the night of October 31st, each village used to lit a bonfire, the purpose of which was to drive away those evil spirits that could sneak amongst the ghost of their relatives and wreak havoc on the village. The home fire that night had to be started by coals from such a bonfire.

With the Roman invasion, the Celtic holidays were mixed with the customs of the conquerors. For example, catching apples with your mouth in a basin of water (apple bobbing), which is a common Halloween game in Europe, is in honour of the Roman goddess of fruits and trees – Pomona.

Later, after the retreat of the Romans, Christianity gradually entered the Islands on the shoulders of (Saint) Augustine – a monk, an envoy of Rome, who had the task of spreading this religion among the Anglo-Saxons, who brought back the heathen times. Many Christian holidays became popular with spreading Christianity, such as All Saints Day – a day in which those who died defending their faith were celebrated. Originally, this holiday was celebrated by Christians on May 13th, but in the 8th century Pope Gregory moved it to November 1st. This is how the holiday of Samhain became, translated literally, the Night of All Holy Relics (relics is what the church calls the incorruptible bodies or parts of bodies of fallen saints) – All-Hallows-Eve, this name evolved into Hallows Eve and from there – into Hallowe’ en, and finally in the current well-known name Halloween.

On the night of November 1st, children in Britain and Ireland, the USA, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico, and many other countries welcome the holiday with faces painted in scary masks, they call ghosts and tell each other spooky stories.

Dear friends, we hope that our short texts will be good tool in helping you learn English better, as well as to introduce you to the culture of our host country in an accessible way. To get the most out of our blog, use the right button on the top to change the Bulgarian version of our website to the English one and see the translation! Write down the unknown words and learn them! The training is easiest step by step. We wish you a Happy holiday!

Author: Iveta Radeva

Training Centre Raya London is a new and fastly developing English Language School specialized in teaching English as a second language. Founded in 2015 we are small enough to provide a personal service, but large enough to have very good facilities and resources for the students to learn English in UK.