Of Floods, Arks and Samhain: The True History of Halloween

In the early 1900s, the migrating Irish and Scots brought Halloween traditions to the United States. Over time, Halloween catapulted into mainstream culture.

Here in Ireland, County Meath was the focus of the “Samhain” celebrations on the Hill of Tlachtga, outside Athboy, and the migrating Irish brought these traditions to the United States which evolved into the mainstream celebration of “Halloween”.

Halloween and the Flood of Noah’s Day

This festival though, has roots reaching further back to the flood of Noah’s Day.

Archbishop Ussher was the 17th century historian who compiled The Annals of the World

According to Archbishop Ussher (the 17th century historian who compiled The Annals of the World), the Flood ended in 2348 B.C. and that the dispersion after the Tower of Babel took place about 2242 BC., during which time Noah’s sons and grandsons would have been alive.

In Genesis 7:11 the Scriptures state that the flood came on the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month.  The second month begins on about October 14th, and seventeen days hence is October 31st.

October 31st , therefore, is the day that Noah boarded the ark and the great flood came upon the earth to destroy the first world. One year and 10 days later, Noah left the ark on Mount Ararat.

Noah's Ark
A full-scale replica of Noah’s Ark which can be visited in the Netherlands.








The real origin of Halloween appears to be a memorial of the evil people who died in Noah’s Flood, including the Nephilim, and a continuation of the sacrifices that Noah made after coming off the Ark. Because the celebrations call for the remembrance of the dead and have sacrifices, it is reminiscent of the large sacrifice that Noah and his family performed after the Flood. This would also explain why many other cultures have a variant of this regular sacrifice. (Genesis 8:18–9:1)

In 607 A.D., the Byzantine Roman Emperor Phocas presented to the pope the Roman Pantheon. Pope Boniface IV cleansed it and dedicated it to the service of the Virgin Mary and all the Martyrs on May 13th, formally creating All Saints’ Day in 609 A.D.

The holy day was eventually moved to November 1 by Pope Gregory III in 835 A.D. as a day dedicated to the saints and their relics. The date was moved for two reasons:

1) The convenience of celebrating after the harvest
2) The pagans already celebrated the 1st of November as a pagan holiday to remember the dead and it was easier to “Christianise” this pagan holiday.

Other Cultures and Festival of the Dead

Holidays all round the world in both present and ancient times have had a holiday when the dead were remembered and animals were sacrificed. We can make a pretty strong argument that this holiday goes back to a time when all the peoples lived together—and then they took this holiday to various parts of the world. There seem to be too many parallels to call these similar celebrations in cultures all round the world, in memory of this traumatic event, the “Great Flood”, a coincidence.

“What is often overlooked, however, is that there is the remembrance of the ‘Day of the Dead, followed by a New Year. This occurs on our (modern Roman-based) calendar at the end of October or the beginning of November.” (Frank Humphrey, the Great Flood and Halloween).

Here is a list from Humphrey’s book about the traditions worldwide:

  • “In ancient Assyria the ceremonies for the souls of the dead were in the month Arahsamna, which is Marcheswan [mid-October to mid-November].”
  • In Egypt, it has been known for a long time that Osiris’ box or coffin, which Coffin of Osirisfloated on water for a year, was a distorted Egyptian memory of the Flood. A well-known Greek historian in the first century A.D. stated that Osiris, the Egyptian god of the underworld, was on the 17th day of Athyr (corresponding to an Oct. – Nov. timeframe) placed tightly in a box and put afloat on the waters.
  • In India, the Hindu Durga celebration for those who have died was first tied to their New Year (which began in November)
  • The “early Anglo-Saxons called November Blood Month,” while Celtic inhabitants of Britain observed the beginning of their year in November.
  • Aboriginal Australians, in the fall each year, put white colored stripes on both their legs and arms to symbolize a skeleton.
  • The ancient Peruvian Incas began their year in November with a celebration called Ayamarka – which concluded with the placing of food and beverages on the graves of the departed.

Humphrey concludes – “The legends cited . . . are found all over the world . . . yet they all have in common this remembrance of death . . . at the end of October and the beginning of November”.

The ancient English Druid priests would celebrate October 31st by pulling down and rebuilding the roof of their temple as a symbol of the destruction and renovation of the world.

To remember the dead, the people were instructed to place an offering of food on the graves of departed loved ones. The people could not keep the poor children in the towns from disguising themselves and stealing the food off the graves.

Mexican Day of the Dead
Mexican Day of the Dead

Furthermore, in the Americas there is the Mexican Day of the Dead (El Día de los Muertos) that goes back to the ancient festival of the dead celebrated by Aztecs and the more-ancient Olmec. This was likely where the Guatemalans got their Day of the Dead.

Brazilians also celebrate Finados (Day of the Dead). Bolivia has the Day of the Skulls (Día de los Natitas).

Chinese Ghost Festival
Chinese Ghost Festival

In Asia, there are similar festivals. For example, the Chinese celebrated the Ghost Festival, which was a day to pay homage to dead ancestors.

The Japanese celebrated something similar called O-bon or merely Bon.

Even Vietnam has a variant of the Ghost Festival called Tet Trung Nguyen.

In Korea, there is Chuseok or Hankawi, in which deceased ancestors are ritualized.

In Nepal, there is the cow pilgrimage called Gia Jatra to honor the recently deceased.

In the Philippines, there is the Day of the Dead (Araw ng mga Patay), where tombs are cleaned and repainted. The list goes on and on (see reference 5).

The most complete collection of these flood legends from all over the world is contained in Richard Andree’s German work Die Flutsagen and James Grazer’s Folklore in the Old Testament.

The 1904 book The Worship of the Dead, or the Origin and Nature of Pagan Idolatry and Its Bearing Upon the Early History of Egypt and Babylonia, by John Garnier , he says that “ [T]here is hardly a nation or tribe in the world which does not possess a tradition of the destruction of the human race by a flood; and the details of these traditions are too exactly in accordance with each other to permit the suggestion, which some have made, that they refer to different local floods in each case.

The force of this argument is illustrated by the fact of the observance of a great festival of the dead in commemoration of the event, not only by nations more or less in communication with each other, but by others widely separated, both by the ocean and by centuries of time.

This festival is, moreover, held by all on or about the very day on which, according to the Mosaic account, the Deluge took place, viz., the seventeenth day of the second month — the month nearly corresponding with our November.”


Modern Halloween5th Century B.C.E.: The Celts observe the festival of Samhain at the end of October, when they believe ghosts and demons roam the earth more so than at other times.

1st Century C.E.: The Romans conquer the Celts and adopt the spiritistic rituals of Samhain.

7th Century C.E.: Pope Boniface IV is said to have established the annual celebration of All Saints’ Day to honor martyrs. *

11th Century C.E.: The second of November is designated as All Souls’ Day to commemorate the dead. Observances surrounding All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day are collectively called Hallowtide.

18th Century C.E.: The name of the holiday, Hallowe’en (Hallow Evening) appears in print as Halloween.

19th Century C.E.: Thousands of people who move from Ireland to the United States bring with them Halloween customs that, in time, combined with similar customs of emigrants from Britain and Germany, as well as Africa and other parts of the world.

20th Century C.E.: Halloween becomes a popular nationwide holiday in the United States.

21st Century C.E.: Commercial interest in Halloween grows into a worldwide multibillion-dollar industry.





2 thoughts on “Of Floods, Arks and Samhain: The True History of Halloween

  1. Awesome article; rare perspective. See also, “The Flood Reconsidered,” by Frederick A. Filby, Zondervan Publishing 1971
    The author covers much of this as well as some Dragon Lore.

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