Halloween Traditions


Mark Huerta, staff writer

Halloween is often regarded as trick-or-treating, haunted houses, and a ghost here and there. What many people don’t consider, though, is how far Halloween has come. Nowadays, it’s one of our oldest holidays!

The beginning of Halloween began with the Ancient Celts, a civilization that lived 2,000 years ago in Ireland, the UK, and Northern France. They originally celebrated Samhain on October 31. To celebrate, they gathered their harvest, butchered their livestock, lit bonfires, and wore costumes. Wanting to Christianize the holiday,  the Roman Catholics later created the holiday, ‘All Hallows’ Eve’  in place of Samhain. It originally took place on May 13 but was later changed to Nov 5. In ‘All Hallows Eve,’ Soaling started to become popular. Poor people went door-to-door asking for soul cakes in return for prayers to the dead relatives of the household. This likely began because purgatory was a popular belief. On Nov 5, 1605, a dreadful event took place. Many Catholics attempted to blow up King James I and replace him with a Catholic ruler. This backfired, however, becoming the Gunpowder Act. The gunpowder act was when some Catholics ganged up and attempted to murder the king at that time, King James I. Guy Fawkes was found in England’s parliament with barrels of gunpowder. Ever since, on Nov 5, people lit bonfires, hanged unpopular catholic figures, and partied. 

The children and poor would wear masks and go door to door with a figure of Guy Fawkes on a wheelbarrow, asking for any small treat. If the favor was not met, they would threaten with vandalism!

In Ireland and Scotland, young people wore costumes and went guising, going house to house asking for any small treat in return for a song, poem, joke, or trick. The British later brought these traditions to America. Later on thousands of Irish fled to America from the Irish Potato Famine, further spreading the holiday. 

Sometime later, In Hiawatha, Kan, Elizabeth Krebs was tired of her property and town being damaged every year from Halloween vandalism. In 1913, she organized a party, hoping this would stop the vandalism. This backfired, Unfortunately, and the yearly vandalization continued. Krebs organized a dance, festival, parade, and costume party in 1914. This time, it worked, and others did the same. Soon, everyone around America celebrated festivals without vandalism. Today, she is considered the Mother of Halloween.

Halloween, being one of the oldest holidays, remains celebrated to this day. Learning about Halloween’s past can bring us to better understand this holiday and how far it has come. Some interesting fact you probably don’t know is that in 1879, around 200 boys stopped a train by placing a stuffed toy body on the rails. In 1900, a group of medical students from the University of Michigan stole a headless corpse from their University’s anatomy lab and leaned it against the school’s front door! All in all, Halloween has had a long, yet interesting past. Many people don’t know the stuff, and holidays can surprise you with how much history and lore they have packed in documents.