Halloween History and Candy of Course

Halloween History and Candy of Course

Ayla Faullin, Feature Writer

October is the time of year that everyone is eager for spooks. Horror movies, haunted houses, and carving pumpkins are popular activities. Not to mention the tradition of dressing up in scary costumes and parading throughout the neighborhoods, demanding candy. It seems like a fun holiday, full of harmless spookiness. But what if I told you Halloween’s origins are much darker than the innocent holiday we have now?

Halloween’s start began around the 9th century, as a pagan holiday called Samhain. Samhain was a pagan ritual to welcome in the ‘dark season’. Celts also believed that the barriers between the physical world and spiritual world broke down during that time, and monsters and ancestors crossed over from the Otherworld, which is where the tradition of dressing up in scary costumes came from. In order to protect themselves, Celts would dress up in monster costumes to disguise themselves among the creatures of the Other World.

The monsters that the Celts believed in resemble many of the modern-day ghosts and ghouls we know today. One example of this is the Dallahan, headless spirits that appear on flame-eyed horses, carrying their heads in their hands, described in the classic book The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Or Lady Gwyn, a headless woman dressed in white that chases travelers, accompanied by a black pig. 

In the middle ages, people lit fires on October 31st to ward off witches and fairies, and the tradition of trick-or-treating started. People dressed up as monsters would go to people’s houses and sing songs to the dead. The payment for this was cake. Middle age was also when the tradition of carving began. The middle-aged people started off with turnips and later on Irish tradition switched to pumpkins. The term ‘jack o’ lantern’ also originated from an Irish tale. Eventually, the name of this event was changed to All Hallows’ Eve, and now, in our modern-day, Halloween.

And getting candy. Lots and lots of candy. Halloween is a popular holiday now celebrated in many places. Actually, one-quarter of all the candy sold annually in the U.S. is purchased for Halloween. So, while you enjoy this Halloween, remember the dark origins of this now beloved holiday, and if you’re the type to believe in ghosts, beware! Halloween is much less paganistic now, more about having fun while wearing a scary costume and other kinds.