Halloween history

Melanie Witt, news-features writer

Americans spend an average of $6 billion on Halloween each year, according to history.com, making it the nation’s second largest commercial holiday. Halloween originated and evolved from different cultures across the world.

800 BC: Historians believe Halloween descended from a Celtic festival called Samhain. The celebration on Oct. 31 marked the end of the harvest. According to history.com, Pagans believed it was a day of overlap between the living and dead. People gathered to light bonfires and offer sacrifices, and they sometimes wore animal skins and masks to scare off the spirits.

609 AD: Halloween traditions are similar to the Hispanic holiday of Dia de los Muertos, also known as Day of the Dead. Instead of mourning the dead, people throw parties to celebrate their loved ones’ lives. Skulls appear everywhere as decorations and painted on people’s faces, according to National Geographic.

1000 AD: The Christian holiday All Saint’s Day was moved to Nov. 1, and All Soul’s Day, a day honoring the dead, was celebrated Nov. 2. Criers mourned the dead in Europe on Allhallowtide, three days before All Saint’s Day. They dressed in black, and soul cakes, a treat, were given out. In the Middle Age, peasants went door to door begging for food in return for prayers.

1700s: People in costumes went door-to-door singing songs in exchange for food while celebrating Samhain, a Celtic festival. They played tricks to imitate evil spirits and used lanterns made out of carved turnips. By the end of the 1700s, poems used the word Halloween instead of All Hallow’s Eve.

1800s: The first parties in America were organized to celebrate the harvest and included ghost stories and fortune telling. Irish and Scottish immigrants came to America, bringing Halloween customs, according to history.com. This started the idea of “trick-or-treating” in America,” where people went door to door asking for food or money.

1900s: According to history.com, pranks became popular for rowdy young people and sometimes cause expensive damage to houses. The first mass-produced costumes appeared in shops in the 1930s.

2000s: Websites are created to sell popular costumes, and Halloween movies are played on television. Today, Halloween candy sales average about $2 billion each year in America, according to Halloween Web.