A Brief History of Halloween - Center for Global Engagement

A Brief History of Halloween

Halloween is an old holiday which is rooted in the Christian, and more specifically-Catholic, celebration of All Souls Day which is near the first of November. The original intent for the celebration was to honor the souls of the departed while also warding off potential evil spirits. The first observances of Halloween can be traced back to Europe. However, once it reached the United States, Halloween took on a more commercial feel. It is rumored that Halloween started getting major attention near the end of World War I or II.

During each war, items were rationed and money was tight for all. Candy, however, was relatively cheap and easy to produce. Manufacturing companies, desperate to increase their sales, started targeting the concept of giving candy away on Halloween. Hence, the concept of “Trick or Treating” (knocking on doors to ask for candy by children). Since the early-to-mid 1900’s, Halloween festivities have taken off, with costumes, haunted houses, pumpkin carving, and the like.

Today, Halloween is (normally/pre-pandemic) a very large holiday in the United States. Advertisements typically start at least a month in advance. Candy companies go all out with “themed” limited edition items like pumpkin shaped peanut butter cups, green (for Frankenstein) chocolate wafers, and candy corn. Coffee shops, bakeries, and restaurants also serve “fall flavors” such as pumpkin spice, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

Click the link below to watch a short information video about the history of Halloween.