The History of Halloween

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The Origins of Halloween 

Halloween originated as a Celtic pagan holiday named Samhain. Samhain was a pagan ritual festival that welcomed in “The Dark half of the Year.” This festival took place between October 31 to November 1. People and druid priests participating in these festivals would dress up in costumes to ward off ghosts and evil spirits; like how people dress up in costumes today. In the eighth century Christian influences started shaping the pagan customs. In 1000 A.D. The Catholic Church formally designated November 2 as “All Souls Day” to honor martyrs from the Catholic faith. Pope Gregory IV then designated November 1 as “All Saints Day” to honor the saints. Source:

Origins of Trick or Treating

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Trick or Treating in 1000 A.D. came about when people of lower classes would go to the houses of upper-class people to receive cakes called “Soul Cakes.” The people would then pray for the dead relatives of the person who gave them the cake; this then morphed into children going door to door asking for treats and candy. Irish and Scottish people had a practice called Guising, where people would dance or tell jokes for coins. Source:

Halloween in America

Even though Halloween originated in Europe, the idea of Halloween as we know it today was cultivated and formed in America. The famous story of “The Headless Horseman” was written by Washington Irving in 1820; this cemented the elements of fear and mystery surrounding Halloween. Scary costumes became popular in the early 1930s. Pumpkin carving and traditional Halloween staples such as black cats, bats and scary monsters are rooted in stories and oral tradition. Costumes during this time were made by hand, usually with crepe paper and cardboard. 

Popular costumes in the 1930s-1940s were creatures such as witches, mummies and pirates, costumes that are still the most popular costumes today. Source: