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The Spooktacular History of Halloween

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Close up of camp fire

Bonfires


The word "bonfire," derived from the words bone and fire, means "fire of bones" and refers to the huge sacred fires Druids (Celtic priests) would build to commemorate Samhain.

During this time, the pagans would extinguish their hearth fires and gather around the sacred fire to burn crops and animals bones as sacrifices to the gods. Personal and symbolic items were also burned as offerings for relief from sickness or bad luck in the coming year. When the celebration was over, the pagans would use the embers of the sacred bonfire to re-light their own hearths as a way to protect them from the coming winter.

Additionally, the sacred bonfires were thought to scare away any evil spirits visiting. People would stay close to the fires wearing costumes of animal heads and skins to disguise themselves.

Next: Witches and Cauldrons

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