The History of Halloween


Calley Baxter, Junior Staff Writer

Halloween wasn’t always the celebration we now know it as. It wasn’t a time of trick-or-treating, and costumes of superheroes or princesses. Halloween has a very interesting history, and it all started centuries ago.

The Celtic festival of Samhain is the earliest known celebration of Halloween, according to online sources. The Celts celebrated their new year on November 1st, and this celebration meant that summer was coming to an end, and a long cold winter was fast approaching. The Celts believed that the day before New Year’s, October 31st, the line between the living and the dead became blurred, allowing the dead to enter their world. This is why the Celts celebrated Samhain, translated as “darker half”, to welcome the dead back to earth. For this event, Druids or Celtic priests would build huge sacred bonfires in honor of their gods. They would burn crops and animals as a sacrifice in the hopes of gaining protection during the upcoming winter. The Celts would also wear costumes during these bonfires that consisted of animals’ skins or heads.

When the Roman Empire took control of the Celtics, the festival of Samhain had nearly disappeared. Years later Christianity soon flooded into the Celtic lands. Pope Gregory lll altered Pope Boniface’s festival to include All Saints’ Day on November 1st.  All Saints’ Day was also known as All-Hallows, and the night before, October 31st, became known as All-Hallows Eve. All-Hallows Eve evolved into the name we’re more familiar with, Halloween. The church also made November 2nd All Souls’ Day. This was a day to honor the dead. This celebration closely resembled the festival of Samhain, as it involved costumes, bonfires, and parades.

Halloween came to America when the colonies began to settle. Although, America had its own version of Halloween, at first including harvest events, ghost stories, fortune telling, dancing, and singing.  As more immigrants came to America, Halloween became more and more popular. Late into the 19th century, people began to go house to house asking for food, or money. This action eventually evolved into our tradition of “trick-or-treat”. In the 1800s, Halloween in America became more of a community holiday. Parties were the most common way to celebrate. Parties included food, games, and costumes. Trick-or-Treat soon became very popular, and the saying was taken quite literally. Teenagers, and kids would pull pranks such as egging houses, tipping out-houses, and opening gates to farms. Families started giving out small treats to stop tricks from being played on them.

As Halloween grew and grew into what we know it as today, the roots remain the same. Today we still celebrate for the same reason the Celtics did way back when. When the community of Hubbard, especially the students of Hubbard High, start to gear up for this years’ Halloween, I hope they remember the old and new traditions of Halloween.