Halloween Secrets

October 29, 2012 at 2:00 am 2 comments

By Chad Upton | Editor

Trick or treating can be traced back to European “guising” traditions where children would travel from home to home, reciting songs, jokes or poems. They didn’t say “trick or treat” back then, it was “please help the guisers” — a reference to the groups who performed plays to ward off evil spirits during Samhain, the Celtic celebration we now know as Halloween.

The children were often given fruit, nuts, sweets or even money. Trick or treating started to take hold in North America during the middle of the 19th century, although it was put on hold for sugar rationing during World War II.

The Celts believed spirits of the dead would walk the earth on Halloween. Costumes were worn to help blend in with and hide from the real spirits who were thought to be walking among them.

The traditional colors of halloween, Black and orange, have meaning too. Black is the typical color of death in many cultures and orange symbolizes strength in Celtic legend, which was important for weathering a harsh winter. They burned large bonfires, believing this would bring the heat of the sun back after winter. Animal bones were often thrown into the fires and some believe these “bone fires” spawned the term bonfire.

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Photo: José Luis Murillo (cc)

Sources: History.comIrishCentral.com, Answers.com,

Entry filed under: History and Origins, Holidays and Traditions. Tags: , , , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. wendy  |  October 29, 2012 at 8:44 am

    I don’t recall this being the history taught in school. I like it!
    Living in Canada I need all the help I can get to stay strong through the winter! Orange is so not my colour, so I best eat more pumpkin!
    Pretty Cool, Chad! Thanks and Happy Halloween!

  • 2. chriscp  |  September 24, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    Whatever the origins of Halloween, there are still people in the U.S. South who believe it’s a celebration of satan. They’re in the minority but they’re out there (in more ways than one). My sister teaches middle school and has had to try and explain how wrong that is to a few students who were raised by…misinformed religious fanatics. BTW, I’m not saying that all religious people are fanatics. Just wanted to make that clear.


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