A 2,000-year-old Celtic festival — called Samhain — is the origin of Halloween, and Wiccans still celebrate it today.
The Celts were pagans who lived in what is now Ireland, and they celebrated the new year on November 1. Their festival, Samhain (pronounced “sow-in”), marked the end of fall’s harvest and ushered in winter – a season that signified death and darkness for the Celts.
They believed that on the night before the shift, October 31 – called All Hallow’s Eve – the worlds of the living and the dead intersected. The ghosts roaming Earth were thought to help predict the future, so the Celts welcomed them with sacrificial bonfires and by dressing in costumes of animal heads and skins.
Modern-day Wiccans and neopagans celebrate a similar form of Samhain, and it is considered their most important festival of the year.