History of Halloween in America

As immigrants to America began to arrive from Europe, they brought along many of their beliefs and customs and one of these was Halloween. During the colonial days, the celebration was limited due to the rigid Protestant ways of the early settlers.

However, the southern colonies and Maryland held the customs of various ethnic groups from Europe including the beliefs held by the Native American Indians. All of these beliefs began to join and create a new American version of Halloween.

The first American Halloween celebrations seen were parties that were held to celebrate the harvest. During these get togethers, neighbors would share stores of their departed loved ones or others they knew, would tell the future of those that wished to know, along with singing and dancing. The trend for Halloween in the beginning days of its creation were mainly centered on ghost telling and mischief.

During the middle of the 19th century, autumn celebrations were commonplace; however, Halloween was not celebrated throughout America.

During the 1800s more immigrants came to America, especially in 1846 when Ireland had the infamous potato famine. With these new immigrants came other Halloween traditions. At this time, Americans everywhere began to dress up in various costumes to go door to door to ask for money or food. This was the beginning of what we know as “trick or treating”.

Traditions and beliefs emerged such as young women believed doing special tricks with apple parings, mirrors, or yarn they would learn the name of their future husband as long as these tricks were done on Halloween night.

By the late 1800s, Halloween was more about the community gathering for fun instead of the witchcraft, ghost stories, and pranks of yesteryear. The early 1900s brought about Halloween parties for both children and adults and was the most popular way in which to celebrate this holiday. The parties were centered on the food, games, and of course brightly colored costumes instead of the ghosts and ghouls. Even the local newspapers pushed Americans into taking out anything scary from all of their Halloween celebrations, thus the superstitions and ghost stories were fast becoming a thing of the past.

As the 1920s rolled in, Halloween had transformed more into a public holiday whereas communities would hold parties, parades, and everyone would dress up in costumes, Vandalism however, was a huge problem during the 1920s and 1930s despite all community efforts to have a fun filled night.

During the 1950s vandalism was under control, but the holiday was now geared to the children. During this time, trick or treating was more popular that had been while increasing from the 1920s. The idea behind the trick or treating at this time was that neighbors could avoid the tricks and vandalism by presenting the children with treats, thus the origin of the name.

Today, Halloween is celebrated in many different ways across America with trick or treating the main fun for children. On the other hand, schools, churches, and neighborhoods also have celebrations to bring children into a safe environment instead of going door to door due to parents finding harmful items in the candy of previous years such as razor blades.