Origins of Halloween

Let’s delve a little deeper into our favorite trick-or-treat and jack-o-lantern focused holiday. So when did Halloween originate? Halloween is the evening before the Christian holy days of All Hallows’ Day (also known as All Saints’ or Hallowmas) on November 1st, and All Souls’ Day on November 2nd. This is where October 31st gets its name of All Hallows’ Eve (meaning the evening before All Hallows’ Day). In the 8th century CE, the Roman Catholic Church moved All Saints’ Day, a day celebrating the church’s saints, to November 1st. This meant that All Hallows’ Eve (or Halloween) fell on October 31st. Traditions from the Celtic festival of Samhain remained, such as wearing disguises to hide yourself from the souls wandering around your home.

The Irish folklore about Stingy Jack (who tricked and evaded the Devil only to be cast from Heaven to wander the earth for eternity with a single ember he used to light a turnip as a lantern) is how jack-o-lanterns came into play. In Ireland, people started to carve demonic faces out of turnips to frighten away Jack’s wandering soul, and the tradition would eventually make its way across the pond to the United States.

How did Halloween begin?

Halloween began as the festival of Samhain. It was part of the ancient Celtic religion in Britain and other parts of Europe. At the end of summer, the Celts thought the barrier between our world and the world of ghosts and spirits became thin enough for people to commune with the dead. They would acknowledge this time and celebrate the changing of seasons with the Gaelic festival known as Samhain.

How did Halloween come to the United States?

Immigrants from Scotland and Ireland brought the holiday to the United States in Christian times, and it became a celebration of the evening before All Saints’ Day. The commercialization of Halloween started in the 1900s, when postcards and die-cut paper decorations were produced to celebrate the holiday.

What’s the History of Trick or Treat?

The term “trick or treat” dates back to 1927. Today I Found Out explains, “The earliest known reference to “trick or treat”, printed in the November 4, 1927 edition of the Blackie, Alberta Canada Herald, talks of this, Hallowe’en provided an opportunity for real strenuous fun.”

So how did Halloween transform into an 8 billion dollar market?

Forget about Thanksgiving and Christmas, let’s party on Halloween! Halloween used to be the kid holiday. The one day each year when children were granted permission to stay up late, dress as their favorite superhero or princess, and eat unlimited amounts of free treats. According to the American Dental Association and PopCap Games, trick-or-treaters receive an average of 90.9 pieces of candy on Halloween.

It’s not surprising that people of all ages continue to enjoy Halloween festivities. While Americans believe age 14 is when children need to stop trick-or-treating, according to RetailMeNot, that doesn’t mean that teens and even grown ups can’t find other ways to celebrate Halloween (or fund their own sugar rushes!).

Halloween Continues To Evolve

The prolonged adolescence of Millennials has transformed Halloween from a kid-centric holiday into an $8 billion a year industry for kids young and old. According to DDB Worldwide, two in three adults feel Halloween is a holiday for them and not just children.

“On one hand, it’s changed for children because of security concerns,” says Denise Delahorne of DDB Worldwide. “Church groups are hosting trunk parties in their parking lots where kids go from car to car getting their candy instead of going door-to-door.”

Obesity concerns have also put a damper on the candy allotment. Now, kids who do go trick-or-treating often do so during the daytime, and receive healthy treats. Yippee?

Meanwhile, it’s a different world for adults. DDB Worldwide notes that 13% of Americans ages 18-44 say that Halloween is their favorite holiday. Many companies allow, and even encourage, employees to wear costumes on Halloween. DDB Worldwide also reports that 6 million adults plan to dress as witches this year, 3.2 million will dress as vampires, 1 million will dress as some type of athlete, and 767,000 will wear a politically inspired costume.

“There are several reasons [for its adult popularity],” says Delahorne. “There’s no stress to it. You don’t have to travel or deal with relatives. There’s not the holiday pressure to find a date if you are single. You can wear whatever you want and not be judged.”
There’s the fantasy and role-play elements that come into play. After all, anyone can put on a mask and hide or become someone new. Sales of Halloween costumes are at an all time high, as are party decorations, cards and booze. Forbes reports that even dog costumes are on the rise!

How To Party On Halloween

Halloween is also a big deal for 21-29 year olds, and for this demographic, booze often flows like electricity through Frankenstein’s monster. If you are one of the millions of folks who choose to party on Halloween, I invite you to:

• Watch your drinking. The most common form of DUI is an alcohol-related DUI. Any time you drive with a blood alcohol concentration over the legal limit of 0.08 (or in certain cases, even when your BAC is below that limit) you are at risk of being cited for DUI, even if you don’t necessarily feel “drunk.” If you are at a Halloween party, be sure to moderate your drinking, especially if you are planning on driving home afterwards.
• Don’t take drugs and drive (prescriptions count too). Drugged driving may also result in a DUI arrest. Even when the drugs are prescription drugs prescribed to you by a physician, any time your ability to operate a vehicle is impaired by the effects of a drug, you are at risk for a DUI arrest.
• Don’t wear a mask while driving. Police typically need a good reason to pull you over, such as observing you breaking a traffic law or driving recklessly. Wearing a mask that obscures your vision while driving can also affect your reaction time.
• Make sure you have a safety plan. Get a ride instead of driving. If you decide to drink on Halloween, the easiest and surefire way to avoid a DUI is simply to avoid driving at all. Take a taxi, a limo, rideshare, Uber, Lyft or walk or take public transportation.
• Planning a party? Consider being a host of alcohol free drinks.

Lastly, remember Halloween is a great time for law enforcement to set up DUI checkpoints. So wherever you go and whatever you do, Party Without Regrets and be safe!

Louise Stanger is a speaker, educator, licensed clinician, social worker, certified daring way facilitator and interventionist who uses an invitational intervention approach to work with complicated mental health, substance abuse, chronic pain and process addiction clients.

To learn more about Louise Stanger and her interventions and other resources, visit her website,


  • Louise Stanger Ed.D, LCSW, CDWF, CIP

    Writer, Speaker, Clinician, Interventionist

    Dr. Louise Stanger founded All About Interventions because she is passionate about helping families whose loved ones experience substance abuse, mental health, process addictions and chronic pain. She is committed to showing up for her clients and facilitating lasting change so families are free from sleepless, worrisome nights. Additionally, she speaks about these topics all around the country, trains staff at many treatment centers, and develops original family programs. In 2018, Louise became the recipient of the Peggy Albrecht Friendly House Excellence in Service Award. She most recently received the Interventionist of the Year Award from DB Resources in London and McLean Hospital - an affiliate of Harvard University, in 2019. To learn more, watch this video: and visit her website at