The Fascinating History of Halloween and Modern Day Halloween Parties

Halloween is a fun holiday for children and adults alike, it is the kick-off to the holiday season when the air is crisp and days are growing shorter.  Kids love to play dress-up, attend Halloween parties, go trick or treating and eat all the candy they can until they give themselves tummy ache.  Some adults equally love to dress up, go to Haloween parties, or just have a fun time with their little ones on Halloween.  If asked, most people don’t really know the origin of Halloween and how this once religious holiday turned into kids running around as princesses and ghosts getting candy from their neighbors.

The History of Halloween

The Fascinating History Of Halloween And Modern Day Halloween Parties

The history of Halloween dates back before Halloween parties were even a thought.  Halloween’s origins date back over 2,000 years ago when the Celts celebrated their new year during an ancient Celtic festival of Samhain for their New Year on November 1.  This was the day that summer and the harvest ended and the beginning of cold and endless dark winter days arrived.  The beginning of this season was also associated with death, as bitter cold combined with lack of Vitamin D from sunlight caused viruses to easily spread throughout the village.

The Celts believed that on this night before the New Year the line between the living on earth and the dead blurred.  So on October 31, they would celebrate Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead came back to earth. This was the beginning of Halloween parties, which have evolved and changed over thousands of years to what we now know and celebrate as modern Halloween parties. However, the origins have stayed surprisingly true to the earliest Samhainfestivals, even if we don’t realize it.

During these celebrations the Celts would wear costumes, usually consisting of animal heads and skins, and would burn crops, sacrifice animals and try to tell each other’s fortunes.  After the Roman Empire conquered most of the Celtic territory the festivals of the Romans of Feralia, in late October to celebrate the dead, were combined with Samhain. The following day was celebrated by Romans to honor the goddess of fruit and trees-Pomona.  Today at many Halloween parties both children and adults bob for apples, which most likely stems from Roman times as the symbol of Pomona is the apple.  

Read More: Tips For Having A Safe And Happy Halloween

Why we celebrate Halloween

The Fascinating History Of Halloween And Modern Day Halloween Parties

Although the idea of Halloween has been around for thousands of years, modern-day Halloween parties haven’t changed that much during that time.  Since it was believed that the dead returned to their homes, people would dress up in costumes and have huge bonfires to ward off the spirits of the dead.  This is one reason why costumes such as witches, ghosts, and goblins are so popular every year and will never go out of style.

Pope Boniface IV created All Saints Days in the 7th Century and nearly a hundred years later Pope Gregory III moved the holiday from May 13 to November 1.  Modern-day Halloween was originally called All Hallows Eve, and although it began in the Celtic regions of Ireland, the UK, and France, it quickly spread across the globe.  It became a part of fall festivals and fall decor in the modern world as we know it today.

Trick-or-treating became popular in the states in the early 20th century as immigrants from Ireland and Scotland revived their Old World customs.  They would go door to door dressed up in a costume and tell a short joke, recite a poem or even perform a short trick for a piece of fruit or another treat.  This quickly became a Halloween favorite and now has taken on many life forms as communities celebrate Halloween.  From Halloween parties just for trick-or-treating to special treats for those who can’t enjoy gluten or sugar, trick-or-treating sure has taken on a life of its own.

Read More: 31 Scary Good and Super Easy Halloween Treats

Modern-day Halloween Parties and Celebrations

The Fascinating History Of Halloween And Modern Day Halloween Parties

Halloween these days has turned into a neighborhood gathering, with Halloween parties galore, tons of kids out parading their costumes, trick or treating together, with potlucks, movie night, and more organized activities for all to enjoy.  It’s a fun way for the kiddos to have a little extra fun and for the parents to be able to do something with their tribes.  Halloween parties are not limited to just kid or school parties, adults have their own fun with Halloween parties as well.

Most kids have multiple Halloween parties, maybe there is one at school, plus a special dress-up day at their favorite after-school activity, trunk or treat at church, and then of course good old fashion trick or treating.   Trick or Treating has actually been around for most of Halloween time Although no one exactly knows when the phrase “trick or treat” was coined, it is assumed in the early 1950s when it was depicted in the Peanuts comic strip and in a Disney cartoon. 

Fun Fact: A quarter of all candy sold each year in the United States is purchased for Halloween.

Now trick or treating has become as popular as dressing up itself.  A pastime that every adult remembers doing, eating enough candy to give themselves a tummy ache and trying to find where their parents hid it while they slept.  Halloween parties and dressing up are a rite of passage, a time to be creative and live out your fantasies.  Both adults and children get in the spirit and it really is fun for all.

Read More: 11 Fun Kids Halloween Books to Help You Introduce the Holiday

Halloween is the kick-off to the holiday season when fall decor and pumpkin spice everything is in full swing.  Halloween parties are just the beginning of the endless parties for the rest of the year.  This year, you can add a little something to your Haloween parties by adding a bit of history to the celebration.  From bobbing apples to timeless costumes of witches and ghosts, Halloween parties can become a bit of a history lesson as well!

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The Fascinating History Of Halloween And Modern Day Halloween Parties

Picture Credits: Unsplash, Pexels

Sources: Britannica, History



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Sabra Ritter
Sabra Ritter
Part event planner and marketing guru, part stay-at-home mom, and part blogger. Mom of two toddler girls, who are always keeping her on her toes. On the weekends you can find her at Southern California beaches or hiking with her family. Sabra loves to cook and is always creating something new!

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