The Haunting History of Halloween

The Haunting History of Halloween

Abbie Nelson, Staff Writer

Adults and children alike are patiently anticipating Halloween. But before you start your October 31st celebrations, for what is by some considered the spookiest day of the year, let’s look back at the origins of Halloween and all of its odd traditions.

Many assume, like Idaho Falls resident Lori Nelson, “Halloween dates back to an ancient festival of terror and celebrating the dead.” However, that is only partially right.

Halloween can be traced back 2,000 years ago to an ancient Celtic festival called Samhain, translating to “Summer’s End”. Samhain was held around November 1st and, while the exact details are unknown, it is believed to be a communal meeting at the end of the harvest season. Some folklorists believe that it may even have been a time when the Celtics communicated with the dead.

You may wonder where the costumes and trick or treating come in. It is believed to go back to the practice of “mumming” and “guising,” in which people would disguise themselves and go door-to-door, asking for food. These costumes were usually more like disguises and were often made of woven straw.

As far as Halloween pranks, like toilet papering houses, those traditions started in the United States and Canada in the 1880s. At this time the most popular trick was tipping outhouses. However, by the 1920s these tricks turned into unruly block parties and vandalism became much more serious. 

So know that you know where Halloween originated, it’s time to celebrate. There will be many trunks or treats in the Idaho Falls, Iona, and Ammon areas on October 30, 2021, since Halloween falls on a Sunday this year. As for everyone’s favorite attraction, the haunted houses will be opening within the next week.

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