The History of Halloween

Halloween is celebrated on October 31st by people in countries all over the world, such as Canada, England and the USA.

Halloween comes from an ancient holiday that was celebrated by the Celts – the ancient people of Ireland, Scotland and England. It was called Samhain – said as SAH-ween. The Celts believed that on October 31st people who had died crossed over to the next world, and they lit bonfires to help the dead pass on their way.

Centuries later The Pope, who is leader of the Catholic Church, named November 1st All Saints, or All Hallows Day, because Hallows is an old word for saint. The night before All Hallows Day was called All Hallows Eve. Eventually it became known as Halloween.

The Pope and other church leaders wanted Halloween to be a holy night, but because it had started out as a Celtic festival, many Celtic traditions remained. People put out food and drink for wandering ghosts, and for other spooky creatures. Then children and adults started dressing up as spooky creatures so they could get given yummy food and drink!

Because Halloween is in the Northern Hemisphere’s autumn, it is during their traditional harvest time. Harvest celebrations have become a part of Halloween, like apple-picking, hayrides and pumpkin carving.

Turnips were originally carved instead of pumpkins. The tradition comes from an English legend about a man named Jack. He was too bad to go to heaven, so he was doomed to wander the earth at night. He carved a turnip and put a light inside so he could see where he was going in the dark. It was a lantern, so it became known as a “Jack-o-lantern.”  Now pumpkins are usually carved as Jack-o-lanterns.

All the facts in this post came from the book Celebrate Halloween by Deborah Heiligman.

Here are some other new books you might want to read about Halloween:

The Five Masks of Dr. Screem by R. L. Stine

Horrid Henry: Tricks and Treats by Francesca Simon

How to Create Spectacular Halloween Costumes by Louann Brown

How to Make Frightening Halloween Decorations by Catherine Ipcizade

Night of the Living Dust Bunnies by Erik Craddock

The Peculiar Pumpkin Thief by Geronimo Stilton

Scary Godmother by Jill Thompson


Tawa October Holiday Activity


Tawa’s October Holiday Programme went very well, with over 50 adults and children attending. They came to experience the Pastimes of Past Times. Special guests Rachel and Joe, from The Museum of City and Sea, brought exhibits from days gone by to show the children. There were games, toys, clothing, photographs, and even a taxidermied goose!


To relive a little of what children in past times did, the children firstly practised handwriting on slates, before each took a turn at churning butter! Some also tried making beads out of paper, playing games from yesteryear, and looking at 3D images in a viewfinder.


The holiday programme concluded with the children having a taste of the butter they had made, before posing for some photographs dressed as children from times gone by.