The Demonic Origins of Halloween

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The Demonic Origins of Halloween

Halloween is considered to be the spookiest night of the year. But how exactly did a day filled with candy and dress-up become associated with evil?


Let’s dive into the history of October 31 and try to understand how its demonic origins came to be.

The Origins of Halloween

Samhain


It’s widely believed that Halloween derives from an ancient Celtic festival called Samhain (pronounced “SAW-win”). Samhain is a pagan festival that is celebrated from October 31 to November 1.


Samhain was used to mark the Celts’ most important quarterly fire festival. This particular festival fell at the exact midpoint between the fall equinox and the winter solstice. It also recognized the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the darker part of the year (winter).


It was believed that the connection between the mortal world and the supernatural world was at its strongest during Samhein. Therefore, it was easier for the spirits to make their way into the villages. However, the magical creatures, such as fairies and shapeshifters, were feared by the people. The monsters were known for their cruelty, with such acts including kidnapping, stealing one’s soul, or acting as a death omen.

 


Therefore, the Celts would leave offerings outside their villages and dress up as monsters to deter the creatures from bothering them. This is perhaps the origin of Halloween costumes.


(For some more fun facts on Samhein, go here!)


It was also during Samhein that souls of the dead would visit, seeking hospitality. Some believe that this is why the tradition of making jack-o-lanterns began, as the carved faces represented the souls of those trapped on Earth. Another theory, however, is that the jack-o-lanterns were used to protect households against evil spirits.


While less spooky, a fun fact about these original jack-o-lanterns is that they were carved out of turnips. It was only once the tradition made its way to North America that pumpkins became the standard.


Praying for Souls


As Christian influences took hold of Samhein, it began to evolve and take on new customs. However, a trend that continues throughout all iterations of this celebration is a concern for the souls of the dead. While they prayed for these souls, practices, such as building bonfires, also became commonplace to prevent the souls from plaguing families.


Nowadays, we may not actively ward off spirits and souls, but we certainly continue to revel in the spookiness of the season!


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