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A Spooky History All About Halloween

It is one of the most loved festivals in the UK and around the world, particularly for children. But where does Halloween originate? And did you know that here at UK Christmas World we’re also ready for the spooky festival, with plenty of stock to help you celebrate in style! In this blog we thought we would share the history of Halloween and how it has become the popular tradition we know today.


The Origins of Halloween:

Halloween first came from the ancient Celtic festival called Samhain, or All Saints Day. They used to celebrate their New Year on November 1st as it marked the end of harvest and the start of the dark cold winter weather. The day before this, October 31st, the Celts believed that the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred and ghosts of the dead roamed the earth causing trouble and damaging crops. People left food and wine on their doorsteps to deter evil spirits from entering their homes, and when they had to go out they wore masks to disguise themselves as ghosts.

All Saints Day was later changed to All Hallows, meaning the night before was known as All Hallows’ Eve, which was then shortened to Halloween, the festival we know today.


You will have heard of Trick or Treating, but this originated from ‘Guising’ in the 8th century. Children would dress up in costume and collect food, wine, money and other offerings in exchange for singing, telling jokes and reciting poetry. It wasn’t until the 1950’s in America that this took on its well known family friendly traditions that are child centered. The image below shows children dressed in costumes in Seattle in 1943.

Halloween in the Present Day:

Today Halloween is a big business! In America alone over $2.5 billion on costumes alone, add in the sweet treats and it takes the total to over $6 billion! Halloween is the second biggest festival after Christmas!

Halloween as we know it started around the 1980’s, likely to have become popular after the release of ‘Halloween’ the movie in 1978.  

Many Halloween traditions came from America such as the well-known ‘Trick or Treating’…

Decorating of homes and gardens, many people spend a huge amount of money turning their homes into a true scare fest, particularly if they are holding Halloween parties, or are expecting Trick or Treaters to come knocking…

A popular activity at a Halloween party is apple bobbing. It is said that this originates from a Superstition from the 1900’s.  It was thought you bobbed for an apple and peeled a length of skin from the fruit, you had to then circle it around your head 3 times then throw it over your shoulder. It would then supposedly land on the ground in the shape of the initial of your true love’s name. Another tale from this game is that girls who bobbed for apples would place them under the pillow at night, they would then see their true love in their dreams in their sleep!

Carving pumpkins is also a popular tradition as Halloween draws closer. Hollowing out the pumpkin, carving a scary face into the front and illuminating it for all to see, often with a tea light or candle in the centre. These are then mainly placed in a window or outside the home, adding to their Halloween decorations…


Here are a few fun Halloween facts:

  • The first Jack O’Lanterns (carved pumpkins) were actually made from turnips
  • The largest pumpkin ever recorded weighed in at a massive 836lb
  • Black and orange are the colours associated with Halloween – orange to represent the end of the harvest, and black to represent death
  • According to tradition, if a person wears their clothes inside out and walks backwards on Halloween they will see a witch at midnight
  • Boston holds the records for the most Jack O’Lanterns lit at once at 30,128

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