There’s nothing quite like a Halloween bonfire. The crackle and heat of the flames, the smell of wood smoke and neighbours huddled around, sharing warm drinks and telling scary stories. These evenings are a beloved tradition for adults and children alike.
Why do we have bonfires on Halloween? To understand the modern Halloween bonfire, we need to learn about Samhain, a Celtic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. The Celts believed that on Samhain, the spirits could visit from the realm of the dead.
These spirits could play tricks on the living, unless an offering was provided. The Celts would also carve turnips or field beets into grotesque faces to represent these spirits – sort of an early Jack O’Lantern. On the evening of Samhain, young people would go from house to house asking for kindling for the bonfire, as well as food offerings.
Over the years, people started dressing up as the spirits that came out during All Hallows Eve, and going door to door, giving rise to the first “trick or treaters.” Over time, these traditions merged with Samhain to become Halloween, and transferred to the Americas when the Irish and English immigrants merged their traditions.
This year, the Otter Point Volunteer Fire Department will be hosting a Halloween bonfire and fireworks display at Camp Barnard on the spookiest night of the year, October 31st. Bonfire from 6:30 p.m. onwards and fireworks at 7:30 p.m. Hot dogs and hot chocolate for everyone and goody bags for the kids. Everyone welcome.
With files from the Goldstream Gazette