A Brief History of Halloween (AKA Samhain, Martyr’s Day, Allhallowtide…)


By: Katlyn Carner

As the leaves change to vibrant autumn shades, the temperature drops, and you start to pull out jackets, it’s time to deck your porches with pumpkins and spiders! Halloween is just around the corner which means an evening filled with spooky fun and costumes. Aside from all of the fun, have you ever thought about how Halloween came to be? 

The tradition of Halloween began over 2,000 years ago with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, a religious celebration to welcome the harvest at the end of the summer. The people of Samhain would light a bonfire and dress in scary costumes to scare off ghosts and spirits! Halloween has changed in many ways throughout the years though. For example, in 609 AD Halloween was referred to as Martyr’s Day, a day to honor all saints and martyrs. The beginning of our tradition of trick-or-treating was started in 1556. Trick-or-treating was a three-day long event called Allhallowtide, during which everyone dressed in black to mourn the dead. This activity was also referred to as souling. 

Halloween was not celebrated for a span of almost two hundred years during the 16th and 17th centuries, as it was banned by puritans for being considered a Catholic holiday. In the 1700s, the traditions that came into play are many that we still practice today! They started dressing up in real costumes and singing for treats, and even went so far as to make jack o’lanterns. Who named Halloween? The word “Halloween” comes from All Hallows’ Eve and means “hallowed evening.” 

Now you know everything you need to know about Halloween! You’re welcome.

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