How was Halloween invented? Once a Celtic pagan tradition, the holiday has evolved to let kids and adults try on new identities

pema href="https://theconversation.com/us/topics/curious-kids-us-74795"Curious Kids/a is a series for children of all ages. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, send it to a href="mailto:curiouskidsus@theconversation.com"curiouskidsus@theconversation.com/a./em/p hr blockquote pstrongHow was Halloween invented? – Tillman, age 9, Asheville, North Carolina/strong /p /blockquote hr p“It’s alive!” Dr. Frankenstein cried as his creation stirred to life. But the creature had a life of its own, eventually escaping its creator’s control. /p pMuch like Frankenstein’s monster, traditions are also alive, which means they can change over time or get reinvented. Built from a hodgepodge of diverse parts, Halloween is one such tradition that has been continually reinvented since its ancient origins as a href="https://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/T/bo46408548.html"a Celtic pagan ceremony/a. Yet beneath the superhero costumes and bags of candy still beats the heart of the original./p pThe Celts lived in what’s now Ireland as far back as 500 B.C. They celebrated New Year’s Day on Nov. 1, which they called a href="https://www.loc.gov/folklife/halloween-santino.html"Samhain/a. They believed that leading up to the transition to the new year, the door between the worlds of the living and the dead swung open. The souls of the recently dead, previously trapped on Earth, could now pass to the underworld. Since they thought spirits came out after dark, this supernatural activity reached its peak the night before, on Oct. 31./p pThe Celts invented rituals to protect themselves during this turbulent time. They put on costumes and disguises to fool the spirits. They lit bonfires and stuck candles inside carved turnips – the first jack-o’-lanterns – to scare away any spirits looking for mischief. If all else failed, they carried a pocketful of treats to pay off wayward spirits and send them back a href="https://global.oup.com/academic/product/halloween-9780195168969?cc=usamp;lang=enamp;"on their way to the underworld/a./p pSound familiar?/p pa href="https://theconversation.com/halloweens-celebration-of-mingling-with-the-dead-has-roots-in-ancient-celtic-celebrations-of-samhain-191300"Although focused on the dead/a, Samhain was ultimately a href="https://utpress.org/title/halloween-other-festivals/"for the living/a, who needed plenty of help of their own when transitioning to the new year. Winter was cold and dark. Food was scarce. Everyone came together for one last bash to break bread, share stories and stand tall against the dead, strengthening community ties at the time they were needed most./p