Our modern celebration of Halloween actually comes from the ancient Celtic festival 'Samhain' meaning 'Summer's End'. The Irish English dictionary defines 'Samhain' as "Samhain, All Hallowtide, the feast of the dead in Pagan and Christian times, signalizing the close of harvest and the initiation of the winter season, lasting till May."
The end of summer was of particular significance to the Celts since they were a pastoral people and at that time their lives changed dramatically due to the onset of winter. It was believed that on this night the borders between this world and the next would weaken and that the spirits of the dead could come through. Ancestrol spirits would be invited in while evil spirits would be warded off through the wearing of costumes and masks.
Many of today's traditions including treat-or-treating, apple-bobbing and dressing up on October 31st stem from the ancient traditions surrounding this particular Celtic festival.
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