The Origins of Halloween

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Sam Rowles, OwlFeed Lifestyle Reporter

“Trick or Treat?” the kids say as they walk up to a stranger’s door on Halloween day, excited for the candy. The owner opens the door and hands them the candy, then they go off to the next house. Some of the kids are wondering, “why do we even say that?” 

The Halloween tradition comes from an ancient European group called the Celts who were once the biggest group in ancient Europe times. According to, “It is believed that the Celts were a collection of tribes which originated in central Europe. Although separate tribes, they had similar culture, traditions, religious beliefs and language in common.” The Celts would also hold festivals to celebrate their tribe, and at every festival, on October first they would celebrate a holiday called “All-Hallowmas.” This is what the Celts called the first Halloween and it actually has had many other names before the iconic name, “Halloween”. Some of these names include All-Hallowmas, All-Hallows, All-Hallowseve, and then finally, Halloween. 

The first of this spooky holiday took place 2000 years ago on October 31st in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Northern France. Dressing up in their best animal skins, the Celts would gather for a festival and go trick or treating and many other activities. The Celts believed that dressing up would drive away all the bad spirits trying to ruin their sacred night. Trick or treating actually comes from something called “souling” where kids would go around and ask for blessings in exchange for food. The idea of receiving candy instead of food or blessings comes from Western America and has now spread across the world. states,” The custom of trick-or-treating started in the western United States and Canada and slowly moved eastward. The custom stalled during World War II because sugar was rationed during that time.” The United States has been celebrating Halloween since the 1840s and it has been a national tradition ever since, with all stores filling up with scary decorations and bags of candy every year. 

Another tradition, pumpkin carving, was brought to the United States by the Irish when they realized that pumpkins were much more abundant than potatoes or turnips, which is what they used in Ireland. states, “the influx of Irish immigrants, who brought their traditions and folktales, also helped shape the story of jack-o’-lanterns in America. They discovered that pumpkins, not indigenous to Ireland but common in North America, were much better suited to carving than turnips or potatoes.” These classic traditions have spread across the world with some coming from Europe, and some from America putting their own twist on it. Due to this, we have millions of kids dressing up and being creative every year, thanks to the Celts!