Today, we think of Halloween as a holiday where kids take to their neighborhoods to
trick-or-treat for candy. Scary movies are on TV, haunted houses pop-up and Jack-o-lanterns are found almost everywhere. Amid all of these fun activities, the history of Halloween is buried. In fact Halloween can be traced back to about 2,000 years ago to a Gaelic festival, “Samhain” or “summer’s end” in Gaelic. Researchers believe that this festival was a way to commence the end of the harvest year and to gather resources for the winter months. It was about the changing of the seasons and the revival of nature as summer turned to winter.
The Samhain festival falling at the end of October and the “All Saint’s Day” or “All Hallows Mass” falling at the beginning of November combined to create what we today call Halloween.
Halloween is believed to have come to the US through Irish and Scottish immigrants who carried versions of the tradition to North America in the 19th century.
“Trick-or-Treat,” the popular Halloween phrase is attributed to a literal question of to trick or to treat. “Trick” was a warning that a hoax would be played on the homeowner or their home if no treats were given. Today, the tradition is so widely popular that although the phrase “trick-or-treat” still exists, the “trick” has all but lost its malicious connotation in the US.