The History of Halloween

Do You Know the History?

Halloween is a very well-known and widely celebrated holiday, but most people don’t know the history of it. 

Historically, it started in Christian beliefs and practices. The name “Halloween” means “Saints’ evening.” It came from the Scottish term “All Hallows’ Eve.” The word eve was modified to e’en,thus it evolved into “Halloween.”


It all started with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, where people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts and evil spirits. Pope Gregory III later appointed November 1st as a time to honor all saints, although the real date was October 31st. This was all in what is now Ireland, and originated from the Celts, who lived about 1,200-2,000 years ago. It was a Gaelic festival in the beginning of winter, which was celebrated with bonfires, feasting, and guising (wearing a costume; disguising oneself). 


November 1st marked the ending of summer and the beginning of frigid, dark winter, a time of year that was often associated with death. The Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the line between the living and the dead would become blurred. On October 31st, or technically November 1st, since it was midnight, the Celts celebrated Samhain, the pagan word for Halloween, where they believed that the spirits of the dead would return to Earth. 


This rather dark holiday later evolved into trick-or-treating, making jack-o-lanterns, festive gatherings, eating treats, and wearing fun costumes. In the 1930s, Halloween costumes began to appear in stores, and people would buy them, making that the beginning of the more modernized, evolved Samhain we know today–Halloween.


The customs of “Trick-or-Treat” began in the 1950s, although in the 1930s, it first began as a prank, and not really a saying for candy. Vandalism was also a thing when it came to “Trick or Treating”, which started to arise as a problem. It ended, though, and Trick or Treat became a normal, fun activity for everyone, and not just the pranksters. People wore costumes, like now, and knocked on doors, gleefully waiting for candy.

So what will you dress up as this year?