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Origins of Halloween

Halloween originally began as a Celtic festival to commemorate the end of the summer harvest called Samhain and to mark the beginning of the winter and the start of their new year. High mortality rates would occur during this time in the early winter, so to scare off the ghosts of those who had passed, the Celts would dress up in costumes and light up bonfires. They believed that the ghosts would ruin their crops and overall just attempt to disturb the townsfolk. But they would also try to sacrifice crops and animals to the ghosts to prevent them from coming back during the festival.

Later on in 43 AD, the Romans would take over the Celtic land and would combine two of their holidays with the Samhain festival, Feralia and Pomona. Feralia was a day in Roman culture to honor the dead, putting food on their graves to commemorate their spirits. Pomona was the Roman goddess of fruit, trees, and orchards, which is the reason why we bob for apples every year on Halloween! They held a festival in her honor every early November to signify the harvest of the orchards. November 1st, the day after Halloween, is celebrated as All Saints’ Day and November 2nd is known as All Souls’ Day, a day to celebrate the dead. All Souls’ Day became All Hallows' Eve, which then became shortened to Halloween. The Church wanted to change the connotation of the yearly Celtic festival with a more church-friendly holiday.


As “Halloween” celebrations came to America, the middle and southern colonies celebrated October 31st to celebrate the harvest. Much like the Samhain festival of the Celtic times. Along with that, they would share ghost stories and stories of the ancestors during the late fall. It wasn’t celebrated country-wide, as the Puritans wouldn’t celebrate a pagan festival such as Samhain. The Irish brought over the festival and popularized it in America when they started to leave Ireland due to the Potato Famine from 1845 to 1852.

In the early 20th century they became standard for communities to celebrate the holiday with towns having their own separate celebrations and parades and school-wide celebrations. During the 1950s, Halloween mostly became a youth centered holiday and lots of children began dressing up and celebrating.

Trick-or-treating had started in European practices and was implemented as it came to America, but not really as popular until the early to mid 20th century. It became communities’ main ways of celebrating the holiday while also keeping it inexpensive and affordable to everybody to participate in.

According to ConsolidatedCredit.com, 7 out of 10 American families will participate in Halloween activities this year, about the same as before the pandemic. They estimate that American families will spend an all-time high of $12.2 million on Halloween this year, on costumes and candy and such, which is a 50% increase since the 2020 Halloween spending. 96% of people are spending money on candy to pass out and they are on average spending $31.93 on candy this year.

From us at WLTL, Happy Halloween!


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