Origins of Halloween just as intriguing as the holiday


By Shay Myrthil

Halloween is a popular holiday celebrated throughout North America, but few people know about its origin.

The word "hallow" in Halloween can be defined as a holy person, which seems fitting since Halloween is the day before All Saints Day that is celebrated the first of November. Catholics define this day as All Hallows' Eve.

Meanwhile, the origins of Halloween date back to the 9th century when the ancient Celtic Festival of Samhain took place. The Celtic Festival of Samhain is the original name, but it soon became known as Halloween and was done to mark the end of the harvest season.

The Irish, then known as the Celtis, celebrated the festival. They believed that the souls of the dead returned to earth and visit their homes, and in order to ward them off, people wore costumes. Samhain can be translated to "Feast of the Dead." The whole celebration was designed to soften the hearts of the souls before they caused trouble for the living. Costumes, cakes and treats all were used to either ward off the spirits or make them feel welcomed.

When Irish people migrated to the United States to escape the potato famine in the 1840s, they brought with them their families, morals and traditions. This was when Halloween was introduced to the United States. As the Irish continued to practice their traditions, a new and unique version of the ancient Celtics Festival of Samhain was created in America. It became what we know now to be Halloween.

The costumes that were worn by the Celtics were used to scare away the souls and prevent them from entering one's home and disturbing the peace. Although trick or treating is seen as a fun activity for kids to partake in during Halloween today, it never started off as such. Poor Celtic orphans would go door to door begging for money or food during the Samhain because evil souls would be warded off by good deeds. Americans quickly adopted these aspects of this Celtic holiday and created their own version by merging traditions and ideas from different groups of people and their beliefs.

Fast Facts about Halloween:

*Consumer spending on Halloween-related items is expected to reach an all-time high of $10.14 billion, up from $8.05 billion in 2020. Plans to celebrate Halloween are up this year compared with last and are close to pre-pandemic levels.

*An estimated 65 percent of Americans intend to celebrate Halloween or participate in Halloween activities this year, up from 58 percent in 2020 and comparable with 68 percent in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic. Households with children are much more likely to celebrate Halloween (82 percent) than those without (55 percent).

*The top ways consumers are planning to celebrate include handing out candy (66 percent), decorating their home or yard (52 percent), dressing in costumes (46 percent), carving a pumpkin (44 percent) and hosting or attending a party (25 percent).

*With more Americans celebrating Halloween this year, average spending is also up. On average consumers plan to spend $102.74 on costumes, candy, decorations and greeting cards - $10 more than they planned to spend last year.*

Source: National Retail Federation