Photo by Sarah Gualtieri / Unsplash
Photo by Sarah Gualtieri / Unsplash

History

Halloween is the now familiar annual celebration of carving pumpkins into eerie shapes. The tradition is not new. Over 2,000 years ago, the Celtic people celebrated Samhain, the start of their New Year on November 1st, which also marked the end of their summer. Samhain Eve, the time of year when the dead came back for a night in the form of ghosts, was celebrated on October 31st. During Samhain, black represented the “death” of summer while “orange” represented the autumn harvest season. From the 8th - 9th century, Samhain became All Hallows and the night before became All Hallows Eve. Eventually, the name got shortened to Halloween. 1

In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints; soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating and carving jack-o-lanterns.

Common Practices

  • Carving Jack O’Lanterns
  • Trick-or-treating
  • Wearing scary costumes
  • Bobbing for apples
  • Decorating with orange and black colors
  • Playing pranks
  • Lighting candles and bonfires
  • Eating lots of treats like candy, candy apples, candy corn, etc. 2 3
  • Watching horror movies
  • UNICEF collects money for many of its programs 4

FUN FACT: in the past, pumpkins weren’t the only thing that people used to carve 5.

Photo by Javier Molina / Unsplash
Photo by Javier Molina / Unsplash

Cost

The indulgence, both financially and otherwise, is real. As Katla McGlynn mentions 6, Halloween is the second most popular and commercialized holiday behind Christmas. Depending on exactly how much people are willing to spend, and given the market situation in a given year, we are talking about an average of $50 - 66 per shopper, each year, for Halloween alone! When you consider the number of families in the country who participate, that is a lot of money! A quarter of all annual candy sales in the country also takes place during this single event!


  1. The Origins of Halloween ↩︎

  2. 15 Spooky Halloween Traditions and Their Origins ↩︎

  3. The Chilling History of 14 Halloween Traditions ↩︎

  4. Halloween ↩︎

  5. More Than Pumpkins ↩︎

  6. The History of Halloween ↩︎