94 37 08Kids wearing Halloween masks at the Wright School in Warner, SD, circa 1940. (Photo Accession No. 94 37 08)

We have compiled some Halloween history you can impress your family and friends with this weekend:

  • The origins of Halloween started as the Celtic festival called Samhain, which took place on November 1st. Samhain was also the New Year celebration. They believed the dead returned as ghosts on the night before (October 31st) to roam around. Food and wine was left on doorsteps to keep the spirits happy. People wore masks to disguise themselves from the ghosts.


  • In the 8th Century, the Christian Church renamed the holiday All Saint’s Day/All Hallows Day, which meant October 31st was Hollow Eve. Later this morphed into Halloween.


  • An early version of Trick-Or-Treating was called guising. Popular in Medieval Britain, young people would dress up and go door-to-door to get food and wine in exchange for singing, jokes, and poetry.


  • Irish and Scottish immigrants revived these traditions in 19th Century America.


  • Americans spend $6 billion on costumes and candy each year for Halloween.