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History of Halloween: How Everything Started

by Elizabeth N. Wilson

It is that time of the year to get our pumpkins carved, picking out costumes and decorations. Despite the ages of celebrating Halloween, kids, teenagers, and even parents go big every October. The younglings are always in the most adorable and graphic costumes for trick-or-treating. On the other hand, parents set the mood with startling beautifications, sipping on some Halloween-themed cocktails.

However, have you ever put the fun, immeasurable candy, and traditions to think about where it all started? It is older than all of us, and all the horror customs are part of it all too. Other than the holiday takes place on the last day of October, herein are the essential facts that will blow your mind away!

How It All Started

Over two-thousand years ago, Celtic people would celebrate after summer. The season change was marked by heavy harvests and gathering, which was followed by icy, dark winter. Therefore, the era was closely associated with death. The Celts marked the return of the dead during the merriment of Samhain.

The priests at this time had the responsibility of predicting the future and guiding the masses. How then did the Celts observe this event? It all started with the observers building big bonfires that were considered very sacrosanct. They would then meet around the fire and offer already harvested crops and animals as a burnt offering. Additionally, they were in costumes made from animal skin, skulls, and bones as well. After the celebration, the put out bonfire was revived to fight off the cold approaching the winter season.

Origin of the Name

The name means a sanctified evening.’ In Europe, the holiday was known as All Hallows’ Eve, which is the day before All Saints’ Day. The two consecutive days were meant to pay tribute to saints. Later, the name was ultimately shortened to the Halloween we love so much today.

Why October 31st?

The two controversial occasions were not consecutive until the seventh century. It was celebrated on the thirteenth of May until Pope Boniface IV interfered. The ancient Gaelic festival of Samhain hugely affected this date. The witnesses believed that the periphery between the current life and the next weakened. This season made it easy for the observers to link with the dead and have a connection as well. This explains why Halloween is associated with the haunting as a tradition.

Halloween in the USA

After being well established in England, the traditions started to spread out to other cultures. During the colonial era, various European cultures were intertwined with those of the American Indians. With time, people in America started having public play parties. People would gather and share their yield while telling scary stories and attempting to read fortunes. The events, usually accompanied by merry, dance, song, and costumes, were enormous.

During the 19th Century, the festivities were familiar but not widespread. Things changed when the century was almost coming to an end, and immigrants flooded America. A large number of Irish immigrants influenced the spread of Halloween traditions.

Changes Over the Centuries

The rituals and practices lost their authenticity with time and became more party-like and carefree. Some religious customs that became more westernized include;

  • The connection to the dead turned to a playful act of trying to read fortunes.
  • All Hallows Eve involved looking into a mirror to see your future, now similar to fortune cookies during the season.
  • Costumes were used to pay homage to saints and sanctify their presence whereas. In modern times, dresses can be inspired by merely any popular movie character or celebrity.
  • Apple bobbing, a now-famous party game- in early times, bobbing for apples was a strategy ladies used to find their future suitors.


In benighted England, the less fortunate would go door to door beseeching rich folk for cakes on All Hallows’ Eve. Subsequently, they would pray for the souls of those who gave them cakes. As this practice developed to the modern-day trick-or-treating, some people were firmly against it and viewed it as extortion. However, this never killed the spirit of the Halloween.

The holiday remains to hold a mysterious and supernatural history. It will continue getting popular, and hopefully, not all rituals will get diffused by other cultures. Come this Halloween; we will all celebrate with some knowledge about or beloved holiday.

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