"How did Halloween get started?"

Spooky photo courtesy of Cynthia De La O.

A web search revealed some surprising information about Halloween: It's the “other” Irish holiday. Yes, the same culture responsible for Saint Patrick's Day played a big role in developing Halloween.

Halloween, as we've come to know it, got its start in Ireland's Celtic past about 2,000 years ago, as a festival the Celts called Samhain.

It came on the eve of the Celtic new year, which was Nov. 1. The day marked the end of summer, the harvest and the Celtic year, and the start of the long, cold winter, which was often associated with death.

The Celts believed that on Oct. 31, the ghosts of the dead returned to earth and mingled with the living.

By the ninth century, Christianity had spread into Celtic lands and the culture began blending in their Celtic Samhain celebrations with the Catholic church's All Saints' Day, which is also Nov. 1.

Trick-or-treating also evolved from the ancient Celtic tradition of putting out treats and food to placate the spirits who roamed the streets during Samhain.

The millions of Irish immigrants who arrived in the United States during the second half of the 19th century helped to popularize Halloween in this country.

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