The History of Halloween

The History of Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner.  Are you getting ready for it?  Are you curious about the history of Halloween? Many of us spend a lot of time preparing for this holiday by planning costumes and attending parties, but do you ever find yourself wondering about where it all began?  What exactly is it that started this holiday that sees the sale of 25% of all of the candy in the United States annually?  

The History of Halloween

As it turns out, Halloween finds its roots buried over 2,000 years ago in the area of the world that is now known as Ireland.  The celebration of Samhain was a celebration of the New Year, which was celebrated on November 1st.  This celebration meant the beginning of Winter, which at the time was associated with death.  According to ancient Celtic beliefs, the line between the living world and the worlds of those that were dead became blurred.  The night before the new year the Celts believed that the ghosts returned to earth to wreak havoc and to allow for predictions of the future.  

During this celebration, the Celts celebrated for two days:

  • The first day of celebration was to commemorate the passing of the dead, relatives that people felt close to.  Throughout the night, people would include their loved ones in their celebrations by setting places for them at dinner, leaving treats on their doorsteps and lighting candles so that they may find their way back to the spirit world.  These traditions are where we can trace back the origins of knocking on doors for treats and for today’s jack-o-lanterns.
  • The second day of celebration was to honor Pomona, who was the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. Pomona is said to be the reason for the prevalence of apples (caramel apples, bobbing for apples) on Halloween.  While candy has come to replace apples in many treats, we do often still see them in celebrations.

How Did Halloween Come to the United States

Halloween was brought to the United States early on, but because of strong Protestant beliefs, was not widely celebrated.  Due to the religious beliefs that kept early Americans from celebrating, the holiday did not become popular until the mid 19th century.  The celebration was brought to the states and became more mainstream with the influx of Irish immigrants that came to the US looking to escape the potato famine. Then, by the late 1800’s, Halloween was turned into more of a community tradition instead of a religious one as children were encouraged to not wear frightening or grotesque costumes.  Over the years, today’s Halloween celebrations have become far more lighthearted than Halloween celebrations of the past.  

Today, Halloween has been turned into more of a commercial holiday which sees the sales of 25% off all of the candies sold throughout the entire year. In fact, when it comes to Halloween, Americans spend over $7 billion each year.  Instead of sacrifices and bonfires and treats for the dead, we have parties and trick or treating and Autumn Festivals galore throughout the entire Fall season.  

Do you have a personal history of Halloween or other interesting stories to share? Let me know in the comments below!

If you need some Halloween costume inspiration, here are 15 DIY Halloween costumes.

And if you are looking for ways to celebrate, I suggest you try these 5 delicious Halloween cocktail recipes.  They are sure to be a hit!

10 Responses to The History of Halloween

  1. I only think of it as a secular Holiday although it did get attached to the All Saints Day or All Hallows Day. Mostly I enjoy going out with my daughter as we participate in various Halloween events.

  2. What a fun read! I dont know how many post I have read about the halloween costumes, halloween decorations, halloween baking recipe ect so it is interesting to read the actually reason for all this!

  3. It is nice to read about the history of Halloween and its origin from Ireland.Now Halloween is like a popular festival and there are many sales promotions to.

  4. That’s so crazy! Didn’t know that about Halloween actually! I did know it celebrated the dead. Such a cool post and so informational

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