Halloween’s History


Stephanie West, Staff Writer

While modern day Halloween is a secular holiday, its roots stem back to a pagan holiday called Samhain. One of the aspects of celebrating Samhain was honoring deceased ancestors and providing offerings to departed spirits; the celebrants believed that the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead was especially weak during this time. As the Catholic church expanded, so did its traditions. It took pagan holidays and tweaked them to be more ‘church-friendly.’ Samhain was converted into three different days. All Saints’ Day, on the 1st of November, was made to remember the saints and martyrs. All Souls’ Day, on the 2nd of November, was for remembering the people of faith who had departed. And last but not least was All Hallows’ Eve, which was to be held on the eve of All Saints’ Day, on the 31st of October. This was a similar holiday to Christmas Eve, in the sense that it was an evening to celebrate the occasion that would occur the next day. 

It was in the 1800’s that the holiday that we all know as ‘Halloween’ really came about. Irish and Scottish immigrants brought to the US some traditions that are the precursors to the modern day traditions that everyone now celebrates. 

In the early 1900’s Halloween became popular for teenagers, since it was a good way for rotary clubs to throw a party. 

In the 1930’s Halloween celebrations were on the decline due to the devastating effects of the depression on society. In fact, most celebrations of the holiday during the Great Depression were very destructive pranks. 

In 1950, the end of WWII sugar rations allowed candy production, specifically for Halloween, to blow up, and trick-or-treating as we know it today began to emerge.

Now candy sales for Halloween make up 2.6 billion dollars in revenue every year.