Halloween is an annual observance every 31 October in Ireland. It is not an official holiday, but it is an increasingly popular festive event. Though it has modern roots in American popular culture, Halloween’s true origins are in centuries old Celtic and Christian traditions.
Many believe that Halloween originally began as the ancient Celtic, and thus Irish, holiday of Samhain. This gives Halloween a special connection to Ireland and makes it seem almost like a patriotic celebration to some.
Most of the distinctive traditions of Halloween in the US, Canada, and many other countries originate from Celtic Ireland, though they may have changed in form a bit. Irish immigrants brought these traditions to the “New World” in the 1800s and 1900s.
For example, Jack-o-lanterns seem to derive from the old Irish tale of Jack of the Lantern, a harrowing tale of Jack whose soul is eternally doomed to wander the Earth and is trapped in a carved turnip that is lit by the flames of Hell. Also, trick-or-treating comes from the old Irish version of it where kids sang songs or offered prayers at each door in exchange for a flat, fruity “soul cake”.
Even wearing costumes comes from the Celtic custom of dressing up like evil spirits so as to appease them and keep them from visiting your home on “the Day of the Dead”.