People all over the world love to celebrate Halloween in different ways. In the United States, children dress up in space cadet costumes, teen devil costume and go out to get candy. Adults like to get in on the action by dressing up themselves and by eating some of the candy booty their kids bring home. A full 62% of all parents will tell you that they have raided their kids’ candy stash at least once.
The modern holiday that we call Halloween was started as the Celtic festival that they called “Samhain.” This ancient custom was started about two thousand years ago. This was set to coincide with their New Year celebrations — the New Year for them started on November 1. This was also the delineation between the fall and the winter. To them, the dead could come back to walk the earth on this day every year.
This was not a time to dress up in space cadet costumes for them. They believed this to be the best time for their priests to see into the future. This was very important to people who had no real way of forecasting the weather. While costumes were a part of the celebrations, they basically wore animal skins and heads.
Changes were due to come to the British Isles and Ireland, where Samhain was practiced. The Roman Empire had taken control over most of the area by 43 AD. Not wanting to deter the locals, they combined the Samhain festival with two of their own holidays.
The two Roman holidays were to celebrate the Roman Goddess of fruit and trees (Pomona) and the day of Feralia, which was when the Romans honored the dead.
All of this changed when Pope Boniface IV made his changes. The Roman Pantheon was formally dedicated to Christian martyrs in 609 AD. This was the year that All Souls Day was begun. Originally, it was set for May 13 but it was moved to November 1. The celebrations for All Souls Day were pretty similar to Samhain. Bon fires were lit, parades were held and people dressed up in costumes, though they got rid of the animal skins and began to dress up as devils and saints. The night before All Souls Day was referred to as “All Hallow’s Eve,” which later became “Halloween.”
In the New World, celebrations for Halloween were varied. The strict Puritans were not fans of the holiday but states that were further south were. In the United States, people took customs from around Europe and mixed them with Native American traditions. This could be seen in the songs that were sung, the dancing people did and the costumes that were selected. As time wore on, many of the religion was taken out of the holiday and it became more a fun event than one to celebrate the harvest or divine the future.
By the time the 1930s rolled around, Halloween was a totally secular thing. It retained the parades, dances and songs but also began to be a night for teen mischief. The holiday was even more geared towards children by the 1950s. It was during that decade that trick or treating became widespread. To avoid being the brunt of any of the “tricks” that were perpetrated that night, people gave out “treats.” This is how that phrase was started.
A lot has changed in the world of Halloween sine the first days of Samhain. Now people dress up in a wide variety of costumes. From space cadet costumes to ghost pirate costumes or scary costumes for women and men, people try to outdo each other in terms of how creative their costumes are.
We have even gotten our fluffy and feathered friends in on the fun. Many cities and municipalities have costume contests for pets of all kinds, though dogs seem to get the most out of dressing up with their companions.
The holiday is only getting more and more popular In 2017, an estimated 179 million people in the United States alone celebrated the holiday. At least 70% said they would stay home to give out treats. People throughout the country spend $9.1 billion every year on the holiday for space cadet costumes or ghoul costumes. Halloween is always fun.