The word Halloween is derived from the phrase “All Hallows’ Eve” and is celebrated every year on October 31, the day before All Saints’ Day.
The holiday has its origins in Ireland. On October 31, the Celts celebrated the “Samhain Festival”, one of their most important festivals. On this holiday they celebrated their harvest, the beginning of the cold season and the start of a new calendar year.
In addition, the Celts believed that on Halloween contact with the dead was possible. According to a legend, on October 31, the deceased set out to find the living who were to die the following year. To scare off the dead souls, the Celts dressed up in scary costumes and haunted the night themselves.
To appease the spirits, the Celts placed small offerings in front of their homes.
Pumpkin lanterns date back to an Irish legend. Jack, a villain, was denied entry to heaven. However, he was not welcome in hell either, as Jack often tricked the devil during his lifetime. Looking for a place to stay, Jack wandered between heaven and hell. A glowing piece of coal in a hollowed out turnip served as his light. Hence the misconception that a piece of coal in a turnip had the power to chase away the devil.
When many Irish emigrated to America, they took some of their customs with them. In the U.S., the pumpkin was larger and easier to work with than the turnip. Thus, the pumpkin slowly replaced the turnip.
Halloween in Europe
Due to the Second Gulf War, the carnival celebrated in Germany as well as Fasching celebrated in Austria were cancelled at the beginning of the 1990s. To generate a new market, the carnival industry helped itself with the Irish holiday. Since then, the holiday has spread to almost all of Europe and is celebrated every year.