Halloween Through the Ages

A Look at the Development of Traditions


Madeline Babcock

Carved: Local Foran family carves themed pumpkins, October 14, 2022.

          As the last memories of summer drift away, and autumn rolls in, the holidays roll in with it. This means that Halloween is right around the corner, and for many this includes dressing up, trick-or-treating, or carving pumpkins. But where did this tradition come from? How has it changed in recent times?

          Halloween originally came from a holiday called “All Hallows’ Eve,” according to MIT’s International Students Office. Which is based on the Celtic festivals of Samhain, where people dressed up in costumes and lit bonfires to scare away ghosts. People also carved turnips during the festivals, due to a lack of pumpkins. All Hallows’ Eve was brought over by Irish colonists during the 1800s, where it became known officially as Halloween in 41 countries. This day has been celebrated all around the world, including in major countries such as England, Canada, and Mexico, for the last 176 years.

          Growing up in the early 90s, Foran history teacher Mr. Brian Dooling, said that his family celebrated the holiday by participating in “trick-or-treating, costumes, and neighborhood Halloween parties.”During the 90s, popularity of Halloween movies also began to grow, giving the world classics such as “Hocus Pocus” (1993), “Scream” (1996), and “Halloweentown” (1998). Mr. Dooling said that watching these types of movies is one way he celebrates now as an adult. 

          Junior Hayley Pokornowski, gave a look into how she recognizes this holiday each year. She celebrates now by handing out candy to children who come to her door, but as a kid, she went trick-or-treating with her siblings and dad. Pokornowski also commented that her favorite part of the traditions was having “[family] themed costumes because that made it more interesting.” Hayley also enjoys viewing the decorated houses around her neighborhood and seeing how creative people can be.

          The only difference between today and 200 years ago, at the start of the tradition, is that this tradition is celebrated worldwide now. Over the course of the last 25 years, customs have changed slightly, but the holiday still fosters the same message – motivating family and friends to celebrate and delight in each other’s company.

           This goes to show that Halloween can be for everyone, and can be celebrated many different ways – anywhere from watching movies to throwing parties with your neighbors. Foran celebrates this year with a costume contest and decorations around the school to benefit the Beth-El Center and the Thanksgiving food drive.