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Origins of Halloween

Halloween was formed through the melding of a few different holidays and practices over the centuries behind how it is celebrated by the masses now. The original molding of Halloween comes from the Ancient traditions of the Celts over 2,000 years ago. They celebrated the end of summer in the festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). This festival took place around a time when the Celts believed that the line between the spirit world and living world was blurred, which allowed for the belief that ghosts of the dead returned to Earth on the night of October 31st.

To celebrate and commemorate this event Druids built scared bonfires where people gathered to sacrifice crops and animals to the Celtic deities. It was also believed that during this time it was easier to make predictions of the future and people would gather in attempts to read each other’s fortunes.

Halloween in America was much more commonly celebrated in the southern colonies originally due to the colonial New England’s rigid Protestant beliefs at the time. Though slowly the beliefs and customs merged and meshed with different cultural groups and a very American version of Halloween emerged.

 The first celebrations were parties held to celebrate the harvest. Neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell each other’s fortunes and dance and sing. In the second half of the nineteenth century when America was rushed with new immigrants, especially the Irish fleeing the potato famine played a key role in popularizing Halloween nationally.

In the late 1800’s a move to mold Halloween into something more of a holiday where they celebrated community and gathering as a neighborhood took shape. Adults and children adorned festive costumes, trick or treating became a tradition and parties were held to celebrate the season. Halloween began its shift into what we celebrate today. A holiday where people gather together to watch scary movies or have a night on the town to celebrate the end of summer and find joy in friendship and of course, free candy.