Spirits Lurk in the Darkness on Halloween


Graveyard decorations. For dia de los muertos they use candy skulls to honor the dead.

Addison Jackson, Reporter

Halloween is the one night of the year when the spirits of the dead can return to earth, at least that’s what the Celts believed. The Celts, who are people that lived 2,000 years ago, somewhere in what is now Ireland, celebrated New Year’s on Nov. 1. This time for them was associated with human death, because it was the beginning of a long cold winter.

Celts believed that on Oct. 31, the night before the new year, was a time when the boundary between the living and the dead became the thinnest.  On this night, the ghosts of the dead would be able to return to the earth. Celts thought that the spirits presence made it easier for Celtic priests to predict the future, promising hope in the long and cold winter.

The holiday was celebrated by building huge sacred bonfires, where people gathered to burn crops and animal sacrifices for the spirits. During this celebration, the Celts wore costumes; not the kind of costumes we have today. Their costumes often consisted of animals heads and hide.

The idea of trick-or-treating dates back to All Souls’ Day parades in England. During this celebration poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them what they called “soul cakes” but in return they asked for them to pray for their deceased relatives. Eventually, children would go “a-souling” visiting houses in their neighborhood and they would be given ale, food, and money.

In Europe, on Halloween night, people feared leaving their homes knowing they might encounter ghosts, so they wore masks and placed scary faced pumpkins by their doors to scare away any unwanted visitors.

In the late nineteenth century, America was flooded with immigrants. These immigrants, mostly Irish, helped make Halloween the national holiday it is today. Taking the Irish and English traditions, Americans began to go house to house asking for food and money; eventually, it became known as trick-or-treating and is now known as Halloween.