Although it is a symbol and a tradition that is less commonplace today during the ancient roots of Halloween bonfires played an integral and essential part in the season. During Samhain (the predecessor of Halloween) the Celtics considered November 1st as their New Years day, a period when the light months of the year met the dark. Bonfires were lit during this period in order for Celtic priest, known as Druids, the ability to fight dark powers and allegedly see the future.
The term bonfire is derived from the words “bone” and “fire” literally meaning the bones of sacrificed animals, or even humans, would be piled up alongside timbre and set alight. The tradition spans from the belief that sacrifices to ancient gods would ensure that the proceeding dark months would pass safely.
During Samhain it was common practice for all heath fires across the country to be extinguished and then later re-lit from a central bonfire from an area then known as Tara. From these fires each household would drawl their own light to burn at alters within their homes. The fire was symbolic of the unification of polarities, in order to celebrate a smooth transition for when the light months of the year give way to the dark months.