For us, Halloween is all about kids, scary costumes, and candy – lots of candy. But, in fact, October 31 has a somewhat sinister past. By looking back at the history of this annual scare-fest, it’s easy to see how ghost and zombie costumes are everywhere on Halloween night.
The last night of October has had a long association with spirits. Some believe it was inspired by the medieval festival of Samhain, celebrated by the Celts in early Britain. Samhain marked the end of summer and the beginning of the dark half of the year. On this day, the Celts believed, spirits entered the world of the living, and they honored the dead by setting places at their tables to welcome benign spirits. The evil spirits, they frightened off by wearing scary masks and costumes.
In the ninth Century, Samhain became associated with All Saints’ Day, which gave us the word Halloween. On “All Hallows’ Evening”, the eve of All Saints’ Day, people would honor the recently dead who had not yet passed over.
Today, the undead figure prominently in horror flicks, and zombies are the stuff of children’s nightmares. So break out those zombie costumes. Halloween approaches.