Spooky season is right around the corner, and it got us wondering about the history of Halloween. Just like Lir, Halloween is deeply rooted in Ireland. To celebrate the season, we’re sharing some of our favourite tidbits of Halloween history.
Halloween’s origins can be traced back thousands of years to an ancient Irish pagan festival called “Samhain”, which means “end of summer”. The festival marked the end of summer harvest and the start of the dark, cold winter, which was a time of year often associated with death.
It was believed that on this night, the boundary between the living and the dead was blurred, allowing ghosts to return to earth. To ward off these ghosts, Druids would build bonfires and costumes would be worn, and some would leave out food to placate the ghosts.
When Catholics entered Ireland, pagan holidays including Samhain were rebranded. November 1 became the “feasts of All Saints and All Souls," and October 31 became "All-Hallows'-Eve." Many of the pagan traditions remained, including honouring the dead with food.
Eventually, however, instead of leaving food out for passing ghosts, it was given to poor people who visited wealthy homes, in exchange for their prayers for deceased family members. This practice, known as “souling”, can be seen as a distant relative of today’s trick or treating.
Halloween and Chocolate
While the history of Halloween is of course interesting, the part of Halloween that we love the most is getting to eat all the sweets (chocolate) our heart desires. Modern-day trick or treating flourished in the 1930s and 1950s. While originally baked goods and fruit were the norm, as trick or treating gained popularity, sweets and chocolates became the status quo, and we couldn’t be more supportive of it.
So, this Halloween, enjoy all the chocolate you can get your hands on! And if your supply is running scarily low, stock up here.