Tag Archives: Halloween

sitting on the fence

Trick or Treat: The Story Behind Halloween Traditions

It’s fall!  The leaves are changing color and it’s getting cooler.  You start to see pumpkins on people’s  doorsteps and Halloween costumes in stores.  But where did these traditions come from?  Why do we have them?  Here are a few answers to questions you may have about Halloween:

Why do we carve pumpkins?

Jack-o-lanterns started in the 1800’s when people would carve turnips to look like human faces and put a candle inside, calling them “Jack-o-lanterns” which means “man with a lantern”.  Making them look scary was just a way to scare each other.  People started using pumpkins instead of turnips when Irish immigrants came to America because the pumpkin was more available.  This became a Halloween tradition near the end of the 1800’s.

Where did trick or treating come from?

The general idea of trick or treating started when the Celts would dress up as evil spirits to celebrate the end of a year.  They believed that as a new year was beginning, the worlds of the dead and the living would overlap, so evil spirits would be out and about.  Dressing up as one would supposedly protect you from them.  Awhile later the Catholic Church changed this tradition to fit their holiday “All Hallow’s Eve” and got people to dress up as more holy things, such as angels.  Then, in the Middle Ages, children would dress up in these costumes and go around begging for food in exchange for prayers for the dead.  Trick or treating didn’t come up in history after that until the 1930’s.  This is when the term “Trick or treating” started being used.

Where does the name “Halloween” come from?

The holiday is called “Halloween” because November 1st was the day Christians would celebrate “All Hallow’s Day”, a day for all the saints who didn’t get a celebration day of their own.  The day before All Hallow’s Day was called “All Hallow’s Eve” (October 31).  It was later called Halloween.

Why do we associate skeletons with Halloween?

Like mentioned earlier, the Celts believed in the new year bringing together the dead and the living.  Skeletons are used to symbolize the dead, so that’s where that came from.  The skull in particular is used to represent death in many cultures.

I hope this cleared up any questions you had been wondering about.  If you have any more questions about anything Halloweenish, please comment them down below and I’ll be happy to comment back with the answer!  If you would like to get updates on when I put up a new post, you can subscribe by entering your email and clicking “subscribe” on the right.  Thanks for reading!