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Halloween History


By Madyson Bracken

SHIPPENSBURG – It’s almost time for Halloween, the spooky holiday focused all on dressing up and getting candy from our neighbors. Horror movies are featured in theaters, on cable television and on digital streaming services, and homes are decked out in creepy spider webs, witches and skeletons. But where did all this fun began?

The earliest trace of Halloween as we know it originated from Celtic paganism in the British Isles. The Celtic New year, called Samhain (Sah-win) was known as the day of the dead. It was during this time that the deceased rose in the form of ghosts and spirits. The Celts appeased them by giving them treats.

When the Christians arrived in the early Middle Ages, The Roman Catholic Church incorporated Samhain into Christianity to convert the Celts. Samhain was substituted with All Saint’s Day on November First and All Souls’ Day on November Second. The latter was more closely related to Samhain and modern Halloween.

Halloween as we know it came with Irish immigrants escaping the potato famine in the mid-1800s. English and Irish traditions were then combined, which began the “trick-or-treat” tradition. Over time, the holiday became more community-centered. Finally, in the 1950s, leaders changed the scope of Halloween to tailor more to young people, to help limit vandalism that was high during this time. All this led to caramel apples, carving pumpkins, getting free candy and dressing up as ghosts, princesses and varying food items.


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