Have you ever wondered how a holiday like Halloween, full of fun and mystery, has become a global tradition? Although each year more and more people join the celebration, few know that its roots go back to the misty lands of Europe, specifically Ireland and Scotland. These nations of Celtic origin play a starring role in the history of Halloween. Let’s unearth the secrets behind this spooky tradition in a journey through time that will surprise you.
Samhain, what we now call Halloween, dates back more than two thousand years to ancient Ireland. The Celts celebrated in style during their Samhain festival on the last night of October, marking the arrival of winter. According to their belief, at that time, the veil between the living and the deceased became very thin, allowing the spirits to return from their “vacation in the afterlife”. On this special night, Celtic druids would burn giant bonfires as a gift to the gods and perform rituals to communicate with the spirits and make their predictions. The idea of dressing up in costume was born because it was thought that it would confuse the dark spirits that were roaming around.
Later, the Catholic Church attempted to “Christianize” this pagan holiday, declaring November 1 as AllSaints’ Day, known as “All Saints’ Day“. This caused the celebration of Samhain to be moved to the night before, October 31, becoming “All Hallows’ Eve“, which eventually became Halloween.
And we cannot forget Scotland, which also has a Celtic origin, however, they have their own traditions, such as the famous game of “dooking for apples“, where they put apples in a barrel of water and challenge people to catch them with their teeth, without using their hands. Crazy! In addition, instead of pumpkins, they carve turnips, called “neeps“, to make spooky lanterns. It’s a show worth exploring!
This Halloween get ready to shiver from the ground up and experience the most extraordinarily terrifying experiences you can imagine.
In Ireland we accompany you to explore the famous festival in the walled city of Derry, known as “The City of Culture”. Here, within the ancient walls, you will be immersed in a magical atmosphere with bonfires lit to ward off evil spirits, live music filling the streets and costumes of all kinds with dazzling fireworks over the River Foyle. It is an experience that will leave you speechless and you will never forget. The little ones in the house will also be able totrick-or-treatin the evening and design their own pumpkins, while being told the spooky story of Jack or Lantern.
Moving to the lush and mysterious Scottish lands, get ready to live a private experience that will be absolutely terrifying in Edinburgh, the city of ghosts. There are plenty to choose from in Scotland’s capital when it comes to being scared. Among these hidden places are the passages under the city, Mary King’s Close, where hundreds of people died of the plague and where the notorious serial killers Burke and Hare swarmed, and where it is best not to be left alone; its numerous cemeteries, with Greyfriars as the liveliest of them, with part of it closed to the public because of the bad slime of the spirits with visitors, or Edinburgh Castle, which has a select troupe of tenants, among the most famous is the decapitated boy who only appears when the fortress is about to be attacked imminently.
For the more courageous there is the possibility of visiting alone The Spanish Ghost of Eilean Donan Castle, located on the shores of Loch Duich in northwest Scotland. This ghost is, coincidentally, Spanish. He was a Spanish army captain sent by the king to help the Scots in their war with the English in the mid-18th century. The English managed to surround the Castle, winning the battle of Glen Shiel, but the aforementioned captain, who stayed until the end, perished within the palace walls. His ghost, somewhat playful, creates some confusion among visitors to the castle, who are disturbed during the tours of the fortress, all except the Spaniards, whom he leaves alone. Homesickness, we suppose.
You see, Halloween has deep roots in ancient Ireland, with its legacy and traditions extending to Scotland and beyond, creating a unique holiday that continues to fascinate people of all ages around the world. Once again demonstrating how history and culture intertwine to create celebrations that endure through the centuries.