The History Behind Halloween


People have been celebrating Halloween for years but did you know when and how exactly it came about? What is the history behind its name and when did it originate?

The History Behind Halloween
Attribution: Photo by Infrogmation, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Origin of the word Halloween

Halloween actually means “hallowed evening”. Meanwhile, the early Europeans referred to it as All Hallows’ Eve which is celebrated every 31st of October while All Saints’ Day falls on November 1. Both celebrations pay homage to “hallows” or saints. Eventually, the name was shortened to Halloween.

Origins of the celebration

So how did they come up with the date in the first place? It’s because the ancient Gaelic festival of Samhain, the earliest origin of Halloween, which took place on the 31st of October. They believed that it is during this time when the boundary between the world where people live in now and the next world became thin thus enabling them to connect with the departed. This is the reason why many consider Halloween as a haunted time of the year.

Perhaps you’re wondering how they celebrated Halloween back then. The Samhain held several rituals to connect with the spirits and many believed they were wearing costumes while doing so. They disguised themselves from ghosts, eat food and even made lanterns like the modern-day jack-o-lanterns. Time passed and Christianity took over paganism and most of these Halloween traditions evolved to live up to this modern time.

Presently, the rituals performed back then are now converted into games. A good example would be the way the pagans used to connect with the dead. Before, they had rituals that included dancing and even sacrifices. Today, people turn to fortune-tellers or the Ouija board.


Trick-or-treating and costumes

One of the most popular activities during Halloween is trick-or-treating. Children dressed in spooky costumes go around the neighborhood asking for tricks or treats. This practice became popular in the US during the mid-1900s. According to them, the candies are believed to keep the children immune to pranks.

On the other hand, Halloween costumes were worn as a tribute to saints. It was actually the idea of young Irish and Scottish pranksters to dress up in scary outfits to spook neighbors. Thanks to them, Halloween costumes and makeup now serve as outlets of people’s creativity and imagination. Young and old alike look forward to Halloween every year so they can show off their most radical and most terrifying outfits.