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The history of Halloween and celebrating it safely

The history of Halloween and celebrating it safely

Halloween is celebrated annually on 31st October. But what do you actually know about the origins of the occasion? Education experts, PlanBee, have the facts…


The history of Halloween

The tradition originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. Samhain is an ancient Celtic pagan religious festival that marks the end of the harvest and the start of winter. The celebrations included people lighting bonfires and wearing costumes to ward off ghosts. This festival is thought to date back to neolithic times, pre 2500 BC. 


Lit bonfire
Bonfires were part of the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain.

In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III decided 1st November should be a time to honour all saints. The evening before All Saints Day was known as All Hallows’ Eve, and later Halloween. All Hallows' Eve, is a Christian religious observance that includes going to church and lighting candles on the graves of the dead. Traditionally Christians didn’t eat meat on this day and Potato Pancakes were a popular choice of food. 


Potato pancake
Potato pancakes were a popular food on All Hallows' Eve.


Over time, Halloween became the more commercial and secular celebration we have today that includes trick-or-treating, carving pumpkins, wearing costumes and eating treats.


Pumpkin carving
Pumpkin carving, dressing up and trick-or-treating are all a part of Halloween celebrations today.


Celebrating Halloween safely

Halloween 2020 is going to be a bit different to previous years. Children putting their hands into several bowls of communal sweets feels like something from another life. Can we incorporate dressing up, community spirit, an evening walk and trick or treating while observing social distancing?

Yes! We can! 

Many communities are organising a halloween trail for their young trick-or-treaters. Instead of knocking door to door, why not take your children on a trail, too? If you'd like to take part in a halloween trail, or organise one yourself, you could put this spooky picture from PlanBee in your window! Parents can scan the QR code in the picture to receive a free halloween activity pack with colouring sheets, puzzles and activities.

QR code for a Ffee Halloween pack

Take your children on walks around your local area and see how many halloween pictures you can spot. You could give your child the chance to pick a treat from your own selection each time they spot a picture on the halloween treasure hunt. 

Catherine Lynch

Hi! I'm a former primary school teacher and resource creator at PlanBee. I'm a qualified Play Therapist and I am interested in mental health and wellbeing in schools and government education policy. I enjoy creating practical lessons, especially topic lessons that have a science or English focus.

In the News

'Teacher advises on how to help kids cope with bereavement during coronavirus’ - Metro

'Ten ways to improve your child's wellbeing during times of crisis' - The Scotsman

Twitter: @planbeecath

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