A Project for Better Journalism chapter
Wolf Howl

History of Halloween

In the United States, Halloween is one of the cultures favored holidays, from decorations enveloping the idea of fear, to cherished childhood traditions such as dressing up or Trick or Treating.  However, the holiday has a very colorful history, with roots stemming back over 2,000 years back to the time of the Celts. Originally, the Celts had a holiday where they celebrated the Festival of Samhain.  It was at this festival they would dress up in costumes to ward off ghosts, and would attempt to tell each others fortune. They would use these predictions as a way to determine their destiny and fate. Eventually, however, the Romans conquered Ireland, and brought Christianity with them.  This brought new religious ties to the holiday. 

During the eighth century, the pope created a new holiday on November 1, to honor all of the saints, called All Saints Day.  The night before the Catholic Holiday was then widely regarded as All Hallows Eve, on October 31, the day Halloween in now celebrated on.  The time of year fit the holiday well, because most European cultures associated this time with death, famine, and the spread of disease. The holiday was a way for people to look at death in a new light, and honor loved ones who have passed.  Opposed to the holiday being glum and melancholy, it was a time for celebrations and future predictions from Celtic Priests. The idea of spirits being present on November 1st was said to aid the priests ability to tell the future.

In the nineteenth century, Halloween spread to the United States, however, it was strictly limited to New England, due to the strong protestant prevalence throughout the rest of the country.  However, the celebration began to spread rapidly, as it became a commercial holiday. Candy sales increased,and so did the idea of dressing up in order to ward off evil spirits. Costumes became more elaborate, and families stopped considering Halloween a sinful holiday, and instead began to look at it as festive.  By the late twentieth century, Halloween became the second most celebrated holiday in America, and is only second to Christmas in sales. The holiday is beloved to United State’s culture, and doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon.