How Did We Get Halloween, Anyway?

Vintage postcard HalloweenGood question. It’s definitely not an American-born custom, though we have run with it to a greater extent than the country of origin: the UK. English, Irish, Scottish, and no doubt the Welsh, too, honored the custom of November 1 as a Christian feast day of All Hallows’ Day or All Saints’ Day (“hallow” being another word for “saint”). The evening before was, naturally, All Hallow Even, which became Halloween, which in turn got a bit tangled up with the Celtics’ Samhain, the day when two worlds, the living and the dead, came together, and, presto, you’ve got a fall night with some scary stuff and mischief.

vintage-halloween-postcards_black-catIn America, it grew as a celebration in the 1800s when the immigrants arrived in waves from the UK. And by the early 1900s, it had become a bit too pranky and troublesome. Eventually, with the first “trick or treat” in the mid 1930s,  the mischievous pranks were traded for a more child-friendly custom. Costumes and candy came a decade later.  Find a collectible vintage postcard, and it may be worth more than penny candy.

Anoka, MIWhat is the Halloween capital of the U.S.? If you said Salem, MA, you’re . . . WRONG! Anoka, Minnesota, was the first city in America to officially hold a Halloween celebration in 1920, so it may lay claim to the title though the people of Salem may argue.

However and wherever you celebrate your Halloween, I hope it’s a happy one.

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