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The History of the Spookiest Day of the Year!

What do five-year-olds and college students have in common? We both love naps, and we both love dressing up for Halloween. 


But why do we dress up on Halloween anyway? As is the case with most holidays, the purpose of Halloween has changed significantly over the years. Here is a brief history of the spookiest day of the year to get us all in the Halloween spirit! 


1st century A.D.: “Samhain,” a Celtic ritual intended to ward off the spirits of the dead.

People wore animal skins and heads to frighten spirits and gave offerings of food to appease them. November 1st was considered the start of the new year, and on the last day of October the worlds of the dead and living were believed to mingle.


11th century: Christianized into “All Hallows Eve”

With the arrival of Romans in Celtic lands, the original Pagan festival became Christianized as a celebration the day before All Saints Day. Many of the rituals of the original holiday were kept, including the wearing of costumes and the exchange of ‘tricks’ for food. 


18th century: Halloween comes to America

The arrival of Irish immigrants led to the widespread popularization of Halloween in the United States. Early colonists had celebrated a similar holiday, combining their European traditions with Native American harvest festivals, but celebration was limited due to strong religious beliefs. The holiday began to evolve into a community-based celebration intended to bring people together.


1960s: Less tricking, more treats

After widespread issues with vandalism, many towns in America put legislation in place to limit or change the idea of Halloween as a day for pranks and mischief. This decade marked the emergence of the Halloween we celebrate today, characterized by store-bought costumes that depict pop culture rather than traditionally frightening characters. 



In 2018, Americans collectively spent 9 billion dollars on Halloween-related items. The Halloween industry is ever-growing with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. The average consumer is estimated to spend about $80 on costumes and other related expenses.


Above all else, the modern celebration of Halloween is a chance to have fun and express yourself (and eat candy, of course!) Try not to think about how much money you spent on Amazon trying to find the perfect costume, and treat yourself to something sweet. 


Happy Halloween!







Morgan Fechter

Skidmore '20

CC of HC Skidmore
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