Halloween is October 31st. The Halloween customs that we observe on October 31 had their beginnings long, long ago. They came from the beliefs of the druids – priests of ancient Gaul and Britain. The druids believed that witches, demons, and spirits of the dead roamed the earth on the eve of November 1. Bonfires were lit to drive the bad spirits away. To protect themselves further from the mean tricks of the bad spirits, the druids offered them good things to eat. They also disguised themselves so that the spirits would think the druids belonged to their own evil company. Surely the spirits would not harm members of their own group! Or so the druids thought. And thus we celebrate Halloween by playing trick or treat, dressing up in cortumes, and wearing masks.
Prior to the late 1940s, Halloween costumes, like this circa 1917 frock, were homemade. These days, the market prices can start at $75 for basic vintage costumes in mint condition and go as high as $1,500 for ones based on cartoon characters, television stars, or political subjects.
This jazzy quartet features light embossing—a sure sign of their age—these cool cats bring in about $100 each. Reproductions of this 1940s design, which the company continues to make today, can be identified by their double-sided printing and a lack of embossing.
All timeline is at Country Living Magazine’s article – What Halloween Was Like 100 Years Ago.
Much later the Roman Catholic Church set aside the first day of November to honor all the saints who had no special days of their own. this was known as All Saints’, or All Hallows’, Day. The night before was called All Hallows’ Even. The two festivals gradually became one, and All Hallows’ Even was shortened to Halloween. The children of Britain made their jack-o’-lanterns from turnips. The turnip is still used in many places, although pumpkins are more popular.
Originally, Halloween was thought of as a religious holiday celebrated to scare away evil spirits. People would dress up as goblins, witches and ghosts in order to celebrate All Saints’ Day without any intervention from these spirits. This is where dressing up in costumes on the holiday actually originated from.
According to Dauphin Couty Library System, in 1921, Anoka, Minnesota celebrated the first official city wide observation of Halloween with a pumpkin bowl, a costumed square dance and two parades. After that, it didn’t take Halloween long to go nationwide. New York started celebrating in 1923 and LA in 1925. By then, not only had Jack O’Lanterns replaced the hollowed out turnips, but the disguised fairies begging door to door had become trick or treat. Bonfires remained popular, but not for relighting fires and telling the future.
History of Halloween
The autumn leaves, cornstalks, apples, and nuts which are so much a part of the Halloween season are reminders of the druids’ autumn festival in honor of the harvest.
Trick for Treat: During Samhain, the Druids believed that the dead would play tricks on mankind and cause panic and destruction. They had to be appeased, so country folk would give them food as they visited their homes.
Bobbing for Apples: When the Celts were absorbed by the Roman Empire, many rituals of Roman origin began. Among them was the worship of Pomona, goddess of the harvest, often portrayed sitting on a basket of fruits and flowers. Apples were the sacred fruit of the goddess, and many games of divination involving them entered the Samhain customs.
Jack-O-Lanterns: Irish children used to carve out potatoes or turnips and light them for their Halloween gatherings. They commemorated Jack, a shifty Irish villain so wicked that neither heaven nor the Devil wanted him. Rejected by both the sacred and profane, he wandered the world endlessly looking for a place to rest, his only warmth a glittering candle in a rotten potato.