What’s the story of Halloween?
Halloween’s history stretches back two millennia. Originally, it was a pagan festival, Samhain, celebrated by the Celts on November 1st. This festival marked the end of the harvest period and was essentially the Celtic New Year. But at the turn of the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and dead was broken down, and troublesome spirits could enter the human world. During Samhain, the Celts would construct bonfires, light lanterns to guide good spirits, and carve faces into vegetables and dress in animal skins to confuse and scare evil spirits.
After the Romans conquered the Celts, many pagan festivities were combined with the Roman holiday calendar. Rome later converted to Christianity, and the pagan/Roman celebration became known as All Soul’s Day (or All Hallows Day). It was a day to honor the dead. Celebrations started to take place on the day before the holiday – October 31st. And so, this festival became known as All Hallows Eve. In short – Halloween.
Fast forward a few hundred years, and European immigrants began bringing their traditions across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States. Although the strict Protestant Church opposed it, the celebration of Halloween in the US was here to stay. It was especially celebrated in the southern US. Halloween became even more popular when millions of Irish immigrants, fleeing the potato famine celebrated Halloween to bring their community together.
Halloween soon lost its religious connotations, and became a secular celebration between family and friends. People threw parties, played games, and dressed up in imaginative costumes. By the 1930s, Halloween was widely celebrated throughout the US.