I love Halloween almost as much as Christmas, and since both holidays have Pagan origins, I thought, "Why not!?" Let's have a Halloween page too!

Halloween 2021

Witch-y door decor

Halloween - Origins and Customs

Over 2,000 years ago:

It is believed that Halloween descended from a Celtic festival dating back at least 2,000 years. This festival, called Samhain (pronounced SAH-win or SOW-in) was an ancient celebration which marked the end of the harvest season on October 31.

The belief was that the date was an overlap between the living and the dead. It was believed that the dead would bring devastation to crops and spread sickness. In fear of these evil spirits, the people wore masks and costumes to seemingly "fit in" and appease these malicious creatures.

609 AD:

The Christian holiday of All Saints Day — known also as All Hallow’s Day — began on May 13.

Several other cultures and religions throughout history have been recorded with some type of commemoration for their dead.

Notably, Halloween customs are similar to the Hispanic observance of Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead, which can be traced to early Aztec times.

 800 AD:

The Christian feast is changed to Nov. 1, a date some historians believe was meant to overshadow the Pagan festival.

All Soul’s Day is celebrated the following day.


Allhallowtide — the three days from the eve of All Saints Day to All Souls Day —is an accepted term and almost obligatory holiday in Europe.

On this three-day event, criers mourned the dead dressed in black and treats called soul cakes were given out in memory of the departed.

The Middle Age practice of souling — peasants went door to door begging for food in return for prayers — became popular and is even referenced by William Shakespeare in 1593.


Many of the beloved traditions of the modern world start to crop up.

Costumed people celebrating Samhain went door to door, singing songs in exchange for food.

They often played pranks to imitate evil spirits and used carved turnips as lanterns.

By the end of the century, poems made references to the word Halloween — a derivation of All Hallow’s Eve.

Activities, such as bobbing for apples, which was a Scottish occurrence known as dooking, were also recorded.


An influx of Irish and Scottish immigrants come to the U.S., bringing with them their Halloween customs.


Halloween is a mainstream holiday in America and the 1930s mark the first mass-produced costumes appearing in shops.

The New York Halloween Parade kicks off in 1974.


Countless websites spring up to sell popular costumes, from Caityln Jenner, Donald Trump, and several scantily-clad creations, such as sexy corn.

Reinventions of the grotesque costumes that were once used remain, though the acts to ward off the dead have become a thing of tales in today’s Halloween celebrations.

(Source: NY Times)

First Halloween Costumes - No Party City Back Then!

Records of the precursor to Halloween—the Celtic new year celebration of Samhain (SAH-win)—are extremely threadbare, said Ken Nilsen, professor of Celtic studies at Canada's St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.

"We don't have actual records telling us what it was like in ancient times, so our knowledge is based principally on folk customs that continued until recent centuries," Nilsen told National Geographic News in 2008.

However, it is known that Samhain dates back at least 2,000 years. This is based on an analysis of a Celtic bronze calendar which was discovered in the 1890s in Coligny, France, known as Gaul two millenia ago.

Samhain was, like our New Year's Eve, the festival celebrating the end of the Celtic year, a time of gathering the harvest and the rounding up of the animals.

It is believed the participants wore the hides of cattle and other livestock slaughtered at this time during the rituals of the held festivities. These celebrations most likey date back to even earlier pagan beliefs.

Inspiration for Ancient "Halloween Costumes" - Animal Spirits

According to ancient Roman writers, the tribes who lived in our current Germany and France participated in chaotic ceremonies. During these ceremonies, they wore the heads and skins of wild animals as costumes, believing this helped them to connect with animal spirits.

The custom of wearing animal hides at bonfire-lighted Celtic feast ceremonies survived until recent times, Nilsen notes.

"This was certainly done at Martinmas [the November 11 Christian feast of St. Martin] in Ireland and Scotland, which, in the old calendar, would be Halloween," he said.

"There might have been an excess of livestock, so it would make sense to slaughter an animal," Nilsen said.

Ancient Halloween Costumes - A Celebration of the Dead

Samhain night was also a celebration of the dead—the one time the spirits were believed to walk among the living.

The earliest rituals aren't known in detail, as there is no historical record. However, in more recent centuries families would leave out food for their ancestors at Samhain. Some would even have extra place settings for them.

It was also a night when people dressed in costumes to create mischief and confusion, according to Bettina Arnold of the Center for Celtic Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

"The spirits of the dead were impersonated by young men dressed with masked, veiled or blackened faces, dressed in white or disguises of straw," Arnold wrote in an essay titled "Halloween Customs in the Celtic World."

The costumes were not just intended to fool visited households. They also wore them to protect revelers from any These costumes were intended both to protect revelers from any evil spirits.

A precursor to today's trick-or-treating, revelers in Scotland and elsewhere,dressed up as the dead, would go around demanding food offerings

Nilsen of St. Francis Xavier University added: "People put on costumes which frequently included blackened faces and so on, representing spooks, demons, or whatever."

Halloween's Forerunner - Cross-Dressing and Horse-Heading 

According to the University of Wisconsin's Arnold, on Samhain the boundary between the living and the dead was obliterated—as was the boundary between the sexes. Male youths would dress up as girls and vice versa, she wrote.

Mischievous young men in Wales would don Halloween drag and were referred to as hags.

Parts of Ireland had a tradition of a man dressed up in a white horse costume known as Lair Bhan—an ancient Celtic fertility symbol. This figure would lead boisterous parades at Samhain.

Author Katharine Clark wrote in An Irish Book of Shadows that Lair Bhan was represented using white sheets and a wooden head.

"Some heads could be quite elaborate, complete with snapping jaws controlled by the man upon whose shoulders the entire structure rested," Clark wrote.

Ancestor of the Halloween Pumpkin

Most Samhain costumes were not complete until appropriate accessories were added. These were usually lanterns made with hollowed-out turnips and candles.

This tradition, later transplanted to North America by Irish immigrants, was copied in the more plump form of the pumpkin, a fruit native to the New World.

(Source: National Geographic)

Halloween Statistics 

I always like to include this, as I find it interesting to see what the trends are over the years. This section will be updated every couple to few years.

Halloween Consumer Spending Statistics
Annual Halloween consumer spending $7,900,000,000
Average amount spent on Halloween $93.42
Average amount spent on a Halloween costume $31.52
Average amount spent on candy $27.05
Average spent on Halloween decorations $24.79
Annual spending on child costumes $1,240,000,000
Annual spending on adult costumes $1,550,000,000
Annual spending on candy $2,330,000,000
Annual spending on decorations $2,020,000,000

Annual spending on greeting cards $35,000,000

Most Popular Adult Costumes
Witches 13.4 %
Pirates 3.9 %
Vampires 3.7 %
Batman 2.2 %
Cats 2.2 %
Vixens 2.1 %

Most Popular Child Costumes
Princess 11 %
Superhero 6.8 %
Fairy 2.6 %
Vampire 2.4 %

Halloween Consumer Poll
BIGresearch for the National Retail Federation. The poll was taken of 9,374 consumers (+/-1%)

Percent who plan on celebrating Halloween 68.5 %
Percent who plan on wearing a costume 43.9 %
Percent who will also dress their pets as well 11.5 %
Percent who plan to throw or attend a party 34.3 %
Percent who will hand out candy 73.5 %
Percent who will carve a pumpkin 47.8 %
Percent who will visit a haunted house 22.9 %
Percent of parents who will take their kids trick-or-treating 32.9 %
Percent of households that will decorate their home or yard 49.5 %
Percent who plan to use last years costume 16.6 %
Percent who plan to make their own costume 18.9 %

Percent by Age Who Plan on Celebrating Halloween
18-24 85.3 %
25-34 76.5 %
35-44 71.3 %

Average Halloween Consumer Spending by Year
2015 $93.42
2011 $72.12
2010 $66.54
2009 $56.31
2008 $67
2007 $64.82

Annual Halloween Spending
2015 $7,950,000,000
2014 $7,100,000,000
2013 $6,900,000,000
2012 $6,350,000,000
2011 $7,000,000,000
2009 $5,600,000,000

(Source: Statistic Brain - Date research was conducted: October 30, 2016)

Coming soon...favorite scary movies and books!

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