Halloween’s history reveals spooky traditions

Children of all ages parade through dimly lit neighborhood streets covered head to toe in decorative costumes on the spookiest night of the year. Pillowcases overflow with assorted candies as excited Trick-or-Treaters go door to door searching for sweets. Haunted houses and chilling decorations create a hair-raising atmosphere and fill the night with mystery.

Halloween, the haunted annual October 31 celebration, has a history that most are unaware of. According to New York Public Library, the spooky tradition originated in Europe from the ancient Celtic ritual of Samhain, a festival dedicated to the seasons changing from summer to winter (light to dark). This eerie time of year was thought to be when the veil between the living and the dead was at its thinnest and the start of the cold winter was often associated with human death. People would gather around a bonfire, make treats, and dress in costumes to ward off evil spirits. 

Halloween became the holiday we know today when it was brought to America by colonial settlers. In Europe, carved turnips lit with candles were placed outside to keep dark spirits away, but turnips evolved into pumpkins when the celebration was introduced to America. Halloween-inspired ghost stories rose in popularity in the 1820s and the holiday later became the go-to release date for horror films due to its association with all things haunted and spooky. Gory Hollywood films altered the perception of Halloween from an evening for kids to dress in costumes and eat candy to a night of horror.

Over time, Halloween has evolved into a day of activities for children such as trick or treating, carving Jack-O-Lanterns, dressing in costumes, and eating candy. Children carefully plan their costumes and look forward to this haunted night of tasty sweets. Teens and adults spend the night attending festive Halloween parties or giving out candy. Some follow unique traditions such as having a bonfire or watching Halloween films.

“Growing up I remember spending a lot of time with family and friends on Halloween and getting into a lot of trouble that my parents never found out about,” senior Grace Collins said.

The great thing about Halloween is that there is something for all age groups, whether it’s hunting for treats, carving a pumpkin, or dressing in extravagant costumes.

According to Computer Science teacher Mr. Mackey, the best part about Halloween is waiting until everyone is done trick or treating and then going outside and attacking the bowls of leftover candy.