The Halloween we know and love today truly is a monster mash of cultures, traditions and history.
Many of us won’t be dressing up to go trick-or-treating this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. But nothing is stopping the holiday from being celebrated with pumpkin carving, scary movie marathons, and lots and lots of candy. This year’s Halloween may be a little different from what we are used to, but the Halloween we know and love is a result of centuries of traditions that have evolved from around the world.
In the mid 700’s, Pope Gregory III moved All Saint’s Day, a Christian holiday to recognize deceased Saints, to November 1st – the day after Samhain. Christian holiday celebrations usually start the night before so the move was an attempt to move people away from Samhain celebrations and into the church. The name was changed to All Hallows Eve (meaning All Holy Eve) which was eventually shortened to the name we know as Halloween.
Around the globe, the end of October and beginning of November was being associated with all the elements Halloween needed to become the spooky holiday we know today: monsters, spirits, bonfires, dressing up and asking for treats from strangers. But the celebrations weren’t widely celebrated or accepted into American society, especially when early settlers wanted to leave the church. This would occur with the rise in immigration in the early 19th century.
The Transition to America: Halloween Turns Destructive
In an attempt to pull kids from the streets and prevent destruction, schools started throwing their own Halloween celebration. This shift commercialized Halloween. Costume contests and haunted houses provided a market for store bought costumes and the rise of trick-or-treating created the individually wrapped mini candy market.
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