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The Astronomical Significance of Halloween

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Courtesy: Ramona Edwards, Huntsville

Today we spend Halloween celebrating  with costumes and candy but Halloween has been around for centuries, long before the invention of Candy Corn. The origins of Halloween, or All Hallow’s Eve, are likely astronomical.

Halloween is a cross-quarter day, meaning that it’s the midpoint between an equinox and a solstice. The Celts and Druids over the British Isles viewed cross-quarter days as the beginning of seasons, and Halloween the beginning of a new year.

The ‘creepier’ traditions come from the Celtic belief that All Hallow’s Eve was a night that spirits could walk among the living. In fact, some tombs in Ireland have been found to have openings that align with the sunset on October 31st.

Now, we know that the ‘official’ cross-quarter day is November 7th, but it’s probably safe to assume that the tradition of holding Halloween on October 31st is here to stay.

You’ve probably heard of the other cross-quarter days too: Groundhog Day, May Day, and Lammas.