The history of Halloween

by Haley Thompson
Ramstein High School

We all know Halloween as a time of trick-or-treating and cheap scares, but the history of Halloween tells a much different story.

Halloween, or “All-hallows Eve,” dates back to the Celtic ritual of Samhain, pronounced “sow-in.” Samhain was a festival celebrated to mark the end of the summer and fall, and honor the harvest.

Samhain marked the beginning of winter, a time associated by the Celts with human death. The Celts would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off the spirits of the dead.

The celebration of Halloween in the United States began in the colonial era.
As the beliefs of the Colonists, Europeans, and American Indians meshed, the U.S. developed its own unique Halloween traditions.

Using the Celtic tradition of dressing up in costumes, poor Americans would dress up in costumes and go asking for money and food.

Eventually this practice would be known as “trick-or-treat.” Around the 1900s, parties and community gatherings became a common way of celebrating Halloween. Despite the efforts of schools and community government, Halloween in the early 1900s became a time of extreme vandalism. As a result of violence and vandalism on Halloween, people started to gear Halloween toward the children.

Today, Halloween profits equal around six billion annually, making Halloween the second largest commercial holiday in the U.S.