November 1st was considered the start of the Celtic New year as it was the beginning of winter, which normally brought death and drought because of the cold weather. The Celtics referred to this time period at the beginning of their new year as the “dark days”. They also believed that a day started and ended at sundown this was known as The Coligny calendar and made for 12 months, each month consisting of 6, five day weeks. surprisingly, despite their Calendar being similar to ours their days lasted from the evening of one day to the evening of the next. so the last day of the year was the evening of the 31st of October to the evening of the first of November was considered the last day of the Celtic year, they celebrated this by holding a festival called Samhain. they believed, not dissimilarly to the Day of the Dead, that on Samhain the lines between the living and the dead became blurred and that spirits would cross over. They believed that the mischievous spirits are what would cause the death so with the intent to ward off evil spirits they would light a sacred bonfire and wear costumes made of animal skins and animal heads. they also burnt crops and animals as sacrifices in hopes that the gods would take pity on them and make winter easier. However the spirits didn’t bring all bad as the druids, or as they were also known, priests, believe that the spirits being on earth allowed them to tell prophecies of what was to come. This allowed for a sense of comfort in the hard times ahead.
By 43 A.D., the Roman Empire had taken over almost all of the Celtic territory. In the course of the 400 years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain. The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple, and the joining of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of bobbing for apples that are practiced today on Halloween.
All saints day and our Halloween
On May 13, 609 A.D. Pope Boniface IV announced that the Pantheon in Rome was to be dedicated to all Christian martyrs, and in their honor, the Catholic feast of All Martyrs Day was established. Pope Gregory III later expanded the festival to include all saints as well as all martyrs and moved the day from May 13 to November 1.
By the 9th century, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands, where it gradually blended with and replaced older Celtic holidays and rituals. In 1000 A.D. the church made November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. It’s widely believed today that the church was trying to replace the Celtic festival of the dead (Samhain) with a related, church-sanctioned holiday. All Souls’ Day was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. The All Saints’ Day celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the traditional night of Samhain in the Celtic religion, began to be called All-Hallows Eve and, eventually, this holiday became the holiday we know today as Halloween.