Halloween has become the second biggest holiday of the year, only behind Christmas. Americans spend an estimated $6 billion a year on costumes, decorations and candy. The tradition as we know it today got started in the 1950s. But the holiday has some deep roots around the world.
About 2,000 years ago the Celtic festival of Samhain was celebrated in what is now known as Ireland, the United Kingdom and France. It happened each year on November 1 and marked the start of harvest and long, cold and dark days ahead. The Celts believed on the night before ghosts would return to mark the holiday too. So to avoid contact with these spirits, people would leave food and wine on the front porch to keep the spirits occupied and wear masks to blend in with the returning dead.
In the 8th century, Christians turned Samhain into All Saints’ Day or All Hallows. The night before was then called All Hallows Eve, which got shortened into Halloween. Traditions evolved over time and children would dress in costumes and ask for food, wine and money from adults. In exchange for the gifts, the kids would sing, tell jokes and recite poetry. Immigrants living in America in the 18th and 19th centuries brought these traditions with them, making some tweaks and creating what is now known as trick-or-treating.
...and speaking of trick-or-treating and all of the fun stuff we all participate in today, check out our Halloween Fun Guide and our list of Community Trick or Treat/ Trunk or Treat times.