Halloween: A Brief History

Halloween 2010, this was my Swarovski crystal vampire costume!

Hey Ya’ll,

Do you know why we carve jack-o-lanterns this time of year and run around in scary costumes, trick-or-treating and collecting mass quantities of candy? I wasn’t entirely sure, so I did a bit of Halloween research and here’s what I discovered:

Halloween goes back more than 2,000 years, when Celtic people believed the new year began on Nov.1, and on the night before the new year (Oct. 31), the boundary between the living and the dead became blurred. For this reason, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.

The name…
When Christianity spread into Celtic lands in the seventh century, Nov. 1 became “All Saints’ Day” aka “All-hallows” or “Hallowmas”, which made Oct. 31 “All-hallows eve” and eventually, Halloween.

Dressing up in costumes was first called “guising” and became popular in the United States in the early 1900’s.

This dates back to the late medieval practice of “souling”, when poor folk would go door to door on Hallowmas to receive food in return for prayers for the dead.

Jack-o’-lantern carving is based on the “souling” custom of carving turnips into lanterns as a way of remembering the souls held in purgatory. Immigrants to North America decided to use the native pumpkin instead.

So, why do I love celebrating Halloween? I love dreaming up the perfect costume and then piecing it together over the entire month—just in time for the big reveal on Halloween night! Even as a kid, I was super competitive about having the best costume every year. Check out these vintage photos courtesy of my mom:

Lol. Do you have a funny childhood photo from Halloween or a fond childhood memory from Halloween? If so, link to your photo or post about it in the comment section below.

I can’t wait to hear about your Halloween experiences growing up and to get started on creating even more extraordinary experiences this year!

4 thoughts on “Halloween: A Brief History

  1. Thanks for all the info, can’t wait to share it with all my London friends, they ask millions of questions about Halloween, a new fascination for them. Last year I had to show them how to carve a Jack O Lantern… with great results of course!

  2. Wow, thanks for all the cool history. I learned a lot about Halloween today! I will share a story about Halloween memory. When I was about 6 my dad dressed up as Chubakka from Star Wars and went trick or treating with my brother and I. He never talked, just made noises. We thought we were the coolest kids in the neighorhood because we had the REAL, live Chewy trick or treating with us. It was cool, until the end of the night when my dad climbed out of the costume. I think my brother cried in disappointment.

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