Halloween History

Halloween History

Haeley Gibbs

It’s a dark night on October 31. Little mummies, witches, and vampires run around asking for candy at every house. Clowns pop out at every corner, and black cats hiss when a tiny monster gets too close. It’s Halloween! Those little candy gremlins running around are children trick-or-treating! But why do we celebrate like this?

2,000 years ago…

The Celtic people are celebrating the end of their harvest with a tradition called Samhain (“sow-win”). They celebrated this by lighting bonfires and wearing saints, devils, and angels costumes to scare away the haunting ghosts. The Celts believed the ghosts of the dead would roam the earth on this day. Around the eighth century, Pope Gregory III decided November 1 would be the perfect time of year to honor the saints. This specific date meant the end of summer and the beginning of the horrid winter that brought down deaths with it.

By 1000 A.D.,  November 2 became a day to honor the dead, being called ‘All Souls’ Day’. ‘All Saints’ Day’ was usually called All-Hallows or All-Hallowmas. The night before, after many changes, became Halloween. America learned of this tradition years later, and they adopted it. It started with neighbors telling stories of the dead, dancing, and singing. By the 19th century, not all countries celebrated this holiday. Immigrants fleeing from Irish Potato Famine moved to America. They helped Halloween flourish.


Americans started to go to people’s houses asking for food and money, but in the late 1800s, they wanted something more than witchcraft and mischief. Parties became more popular than trick-or-treating, although women and men still dressed up. In the 1950s, vandalism was limited, and children mainly celebrated this holiday. Parents found giving candy to their kids an easier way to stop their hooligans from causing trouble.

Today, Halloween consists of pumpkin picking, trick-or-treating, going to haunted houses, dressing up, and tons more! Americans even spend around $6 billion on this scary holiday night. Because of this, Halloween is the second largest commercial holiday, although I’m sure it will never beat Christmas.