We trace many of our Halloween traditions to ancient pre-Christian-era Celtic celebrations, but this year will be much different due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Check out these historical items, parenting tips, and random thoughts and observations about the holiday season from Ball State faculty.
Halloween Traditions Date Back Centuries
Fred Suppe, a history professor, points out that a majority of Halloween traditions originated with the ancient Celts and their priests, the Druids. Other civilizations adopted and modified Celtic rituals, such as bobbing for apples or donning disguises.
“The Celts can be traced back to 800 B.C., to what is now southern Germany and include the ancestors of the Scottish, Irish, Manx, Welsh, Cornish, and Bretons,” said Suppe, an expert in Celtic folklore. “Particular motifs of modern-day Halloween—such as the date and time it is celebrated, children trick-or-treating, the jack-o’-lantern, and bobbing for apples—are related to Celtic traditions.”
When Christianity was introduced to the Celts, church leaders tried to persuade them to abandon their pagan celebrations and adopt the Christian calendar. Because these traditions were culturally ingrained, the church provided alternative holy days such as All Saints’ Day on November 1.