Halloween is a holiday celebrated each year on October 31, and Halloween 2019 occurs on Thursday, October 31. The tradition originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints. Soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, festive gatherings, donning costumes and eating treats.
- One quarter of all the candy sold annually in the U.S. is purchased for Halloween.
- Today's Halloween is a cultural mashup.
- Dressing up in costumes was once a way to hide from ghosts.
- Jack-o-lanterns were originally carved into turnips.
In a traditional Celtic story, a man named Jack tricked the Devil, so after Jack died the Devil made him roam the night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the piece of coal in a carved-out turnip, a common vegetable there, and became known as Jack of the Lantern. Irish and Scottish people would carve their own versions of Jack's lantern with scary faces and place them near windows or doors to frighten away Jack or other evil spirits. When immigrants brought the tradition to America, the native pumpkin was more available than turnips, and today's jack-o-lanterns were born.
5. Trick-or-treating likely evolved from the medieval custom of "souling" in England.
On All Souls' Day celebrations, poor people would knock on doors asking for food in exchange for saying prayers for the home's dead relatives.