Halloween or the Celtic New Year, Vigil of Samhain, Festival of Pomona
The celebration of the day that now is known as Halloween started about 2000 years ago. It was Celts who first gave birth to this tradition and the first name for Halloween was Samhain.
Samhain is the God of the dead who is believed to control the spirits of the dead, allowing them to rest in peace or to act wildly. The Celtic priests honoured Samhain and celebrated its festival on the 31st of October (Vigil of Samhain).
The Celts thought that on that night Samhain would take sinful souls of the people who had died during the previous years and put them into the bodies of animals. Besides, Samhain Day fell on the end of autumn. Celts associated the darkness of long winter days with something frightening. They expected witches, ghosts and demons to come into the real world. To keep them away they made bonfires on the hills.
The bonfires were also made in honour of the Sun. Celts worshipped the sun and were very worried when it almost disappeared in winter. On the night of the 31st of October they sat around the fires and prayed for the Sun so that it could win the battle with the cold and the dark winter and return to them. On the next day they come back to the hills to take the chunk of coal from still glowing fire to light the cooking fire. Celts believed that that chunk of coal would bring happiness to their house. So, on November 1, they had huge feasts, celebrating Samhain or the Celtic New Year.
When the Romans came to the territory of celts, they brought their traditions with them. On that day the ancient Romans celebrated the Festival of Pomona, the goddess of fruit trees and gardens. The goddess was usually pictured as a beautiful maiden with fruit in her arms and apples in her crown. Romans thanked Ponoma for the harvest and put apples and nuts in her temples. Also they organized games and races to make fun.
So, as you see, the Vigil of Samhain, the Celtic New Year and the Festival of Pomona were mixed together and resulted in Halloween.