Long before Christianity arrived in Ireland in the 5th Century, the Celts celebrated the festival of Samhain, which marked the end of Summer and the begining of winter. This was the begining of a new year for the ancient celts and they believed there was a very thin veil between their world and the world of the dead. They belief was the dead could mingle among the living. Samhain was celebrated on November 1.The lighting of the winter bonfire was held at the Hill of Tlachtga (The Hill of Ward ) located in County Meath and was attended by Druids and Celtic priests. These fires were lit on the eve of Samhain ( October 31 )
The Celts would dress in costumes to ward off or fool the spirits and faeries. They would dress in animal skins and offer treats to appease the spirits. The Halloween traditions have evolved over the years but there is no mistaking their origin.
Stingy Jack was quite the character and liked to drink. He made a deal with the devil. Afterall, he would do anything for a drink. The devil offered to buy his drink in exchange for his soul. Jack convinced the devil to turn hismelf into a coin so he could pay for the drink. Upon doing this, Jack put the coin in his pocket. Inside his pocket was a cross which prevented the devil from changing back. Jack convinced the devil to leave him alone for a year and upon his death the devil could not claim his soul. Jack and teh devil met again a year later. Jack tricked him again. This time he tricked the devil to climb a tree and pick some apples. He carved a cross on the tree and before allowing him back down he made him promise to let him be for another decade. Upon Jack's death, heaven did not want him. The devil could not take him as he had promised not to take his soul. He was to roam the darkness with only a piece of burning coal to light the way. Jack placed the coal inside a carved turnip and has been wandering in the darkness ever since. He was known as Jack of the Lantern. When the Irish emigrated to North America they brought their stories and traditions with them. One of these was the story of the Jack-o-' lantern. The Irish used turnips. they could not find turnips as big as the turnips in Ireland but they soon discovered pumpkins.