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Halloween for Kids: The Celts and the Festival of Samhaim

Published by Synthia Simokat

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Halloween originally comes from a people called the Celts. The Celts lived in Western Europe more than 2,500 years ago. This is the group of people that built stonehenge. They were a very mystical people. They are also commonly referred to has pagans.

This was a very scary and worrisome time of the year for the Celts. Now you must remember, the Celts did not have the understanding of the world and the universe like we do today, and you can imagine that when the days started getting shorter and the weather got much colder, that would cause a lot of fear in people who didn’t understand this was a normal process of the Earth. In order to put some understanding to this fearful time of the year, the Celts attributed the darkness and cold to spirits and ghosts that were walking the Earth.


The Celts did not call October 31st Halloween, but rather the Festival of Samhain. This holiday marked the end of summer and the beginning of the Fall and Winter.

Samhain was the Celt Lord of the Dead, just like in Ancient Egyptian there was Anubus, in Islam there is Azrael, in Hindu there is Yama, and in Ancient Greece there was Hades.

Fires to scare away spirits

The Celts believed that everyone had a soul that lived on after death, and on Halloween, they thought the spirits would come back to haunt and scare them. Now not all of the souls were bad, but in order to have some control of this scary situation the Celts would dress in costumes of white robes and horse-head masks to trick the spirits. They would also light huge bonfires and ring bells to scare the spirits away.

In order to keep Samhain happy during the day, the Celts would pray to honor to the dead and at night they held these elaborate fire rites and rituals to hopefully gain some insight of the future whether good or bad. It was believed that during the eve of Samhain that spells, charms, and predictions were to have more power.

Overall, the Festival of Samhain was a joyous festival, it marked the death of the old year and the beginning of the new one. This festival moved the Celts forward and allowed them leave the past in the past, and to move on into the year to come. It also marked the time that they started to think about the next crop.

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