The History of Halloween


Rylie Campbell, Junior Staff Writer

When most people think of Halloween, they think of getting dressed up, going trick-or-treating and carving pumpkins.  Although this is how we celebrate the spooky holiday, there is actually a lot more history involved. Many students polled at Hubbard High School seemed really unsure of how the holiday started.  Senior Justin Auth says, “Halloween began when the Salem Witch trials were going on and everyone was scared of witches so they decided to dress like them.” Well, there could be some truth to that, but there’s much more to this spooky celebration.

It all started some 2,000 years ago with the Celts, explains online sources.  They celebrated their New Year on November 1, which is All Saints’ Day. Their New Year marked a dark and dreary time away from summer.  To them, this holiday also marked the return of all the ghosts of those recently deceased on the eve before the new year. During the night before, known as All Hallows Eve, the Celts would hold a festival called Samhain.  There they would dress up to confuse the spirits and sacrifice animals and crops in a large fire in order to get on the good side of the spirits arising that evening. Consider this video, which explains this festival of Samhain in more detail: Celts and Halloween

         So Halloween actually began as a pagan holiday, but the Romans have also had some influence with their different customs, such as bobbing for apples. “The apple and its place in mythology can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, where it was considered to be a potent symbol of the goddess Pomona and was depicted as being favored by Venus. Hence, it has become known as a love fruit,“ states an online source on the origins of Halloween.

         Junior Jayden Record says, “I thought the Puritans started Halloween?” His statement echoes somewhat senior Justin Auth’s earlier comment.  Although many people may believe this, sources say that the Puritans “vigorously resisted” this holiday exactly because of their strong belief in witchcraft. Still witches play a significant part in most Halloween celebrations.  For some background on the Salem witch trials, view this History Channel documentary: The Salem Witch Trials

All of these traditions were brought to America with European immigrants during the 19th century.  These immigrants would share their stories about ghosts and witches. Other settlers brought their traditions of the holiday.  For example, sources explain that African immigrants brought over their beliefs on witchcraft and black cats. Africans had to protect themselves from cats of all sorts–especially large ones–and fear of black was a Caribbean belief incorporated by Africans, sources say.

Finally in the 20th century, by combining all the customs and setting some boundaries, we have the holiday we now call Halloween.  Halloween is celebrated on every year on October 31 in the United States, and is a day spent dressing up, going to parties, and going from door to door to get candy.  Still many don’t realize the combined cultures that make up this spooky night of celebration.