It’s not just about M&M’s, costumes and carving pumpkins. Here’s a little about how we came to celebrate Halloween.

 EARLY HISTORY: Halloween developed over 2000 years ago from an ancient pagan festival celebrated by Celtic people in the area that is now the United Kingdom, Ireland, and northwestern France. The festival was called Samhain (pronounced SOW ehn), which means “summer’s end.” The festival initiated the beginning of the winter season and was celebrated around the first of November.  In the 800’s, the Christian church established a new holiday, All Saints’ Day, on this date. All Saints’ Day was also called All Hallows’. Hallow means one who is holy. The evening before All Hallows’ was known as All Hallows’ Eve, or as it came to be abbreviated, All Hallow e’en. This name was eventually shortened to Halloween.

Among the pre-Christian traditions that survived was the belief that spirits of the dead commingle with the living on the Eve of All Hallows. Related customs arose, or perhaps evolved from existing ones, such as “mumming” and “souling,” which entailed the wearing of masks and costumes — often in imitation of the dead and otherworldly beings — general mischief making, and knocking on doors to offer prayers in exchange for treats called “soul cakes.”

Jack-O-Lanterns-  A jack-o’-lantern (sometimes also spelled Jack O’Lantern) is typically a carved pumpkin. It is associated chiefly with the holiday Halloween, and was named after the phenomenon of strange light flickering over peat bogs, called ignis fatuus or jack-o’-lantern. In a jack-o’-lantern, typically the top is cut off, and the inside flesh then scooped out; an image, usually a monstrous face, is carved onto the outside surface, and the lid replaced. At night a light (commonly a candle, although in recent years candles have fallen out of favor and are now considered unsafe because of the potential for fires) is placed inside to illuminate the effect.

IN THE U.S :Many early American settlers came from England, and they brought various beliefs about ghosts and witches with them. In the 1800’s, many immigrants from Ireland and Scotland arrived in the United States and introduced their Halloween traditions. Other groups added their own cultural influences to Halloween customs. German immigrants brought a vivid witchcraft lore, and Haitian and African peoples brought their native voodoo beliefs about black cats, fire, and witchcraft.

By the end of the 1800’s, the United States had developed a variety of regional Halloween customs. In rural New Hampshire, for example, barn dances were a Halloween tradition. In New York City, Halloween parades and firecrackers were common aspects of the celebration. In the mountain regions of North Carolina, it was said that Halloween was a time when people could hear the future whispered in the wind. In Louisiana, it was time to cook a midnight dumb supper (a meal eaten without speaking) and watch for a ghost to join the table.

In the 1900’s, Halloween became a celebration for children more than adults. In the early 1900’s, towns and cities began hosting large community Halloween celebrations, parades, and parties. Trick-or-treating became widespread during the 1940’s and 1950’s.

By the late 1900’s, Halloween had become one of the most profitable holidays for American business. In the weeks before Halloween, stores sell decorations, costumes, masks, candy, and cards. Many people decorate their houses with jack-o’-lanterns, cornstalks, fake cobwebs, tombstones, and other Halloween symbols.

 For those of you who still have the trick or treat spirit, tell me your favorite way to celebrate Halloween or favorite costume and I’ll draw a name at the end  of the day and give away one of my recent books, Five-Star Cowboy or Taming the Texan or whichever you prefer!

Happy Haunting!!



Click on Book to purchase!

+ posts


  1. My favorite costume my son had when he was growing up was when I dressed him as an indian. I made his costume full head dress and all. He made a good vampire one year also.

    I love giving out the candy on Holloween. I have a door mate that laughs like a witch, the kids get a big kick out of it.

  2. Happy Halloween! My favorite costume ever was when my kids were very little and I dressed them as pumpkins.

  3. I love Halloween because I love to see all the kids get excited about it get all that candy! It’s just a fun little tradition that the kids look forward to!

    hmmm..if I were going to dress up in a costume and could pick any one..Id be a bunny rabbit! LOL

  4. I carved pumpkins for the kids this week and we’re taking them trick or treating tonight. My stepson is going as Darth Vader, daughter as a cheerleader and even hubby and I dress up. Hubby’s going as a zombie and I’m going 80’s retro.

    One of my favorite costumes of years past- when I dressed as a Texas businessman with an old suit, cowboy hat and boots. Used eyeliner to sketch my eyebrows in darker and drew my “mustache” with it too. The guy I was seeing at the time couldn’t even look at me and refused to kiss me until I was out of the makeup and costume! LOL He said I passed too well for a man in that get-up.

    Hope you have a Happy Halloween Ladies!

  5. Love the photos and the stories, Charlene. My Halloween celebration is pretty low key. I just pass out treats. My daughter, on the other hand has loved Halloween all her life. She was even married on Halloween, and many of the wedding guests came in costumes. Today she and her husband are celebrating their 4th anniversary.
    Have a fun, happy day, everybody!

  6. A horror movie marathon is manditory for Halloween. Plus, I eat the first few bags of candy I buy to give to trick-or-treaters myself.

  7. My favorite way to celebrate Halloween is to watch scary movies, I just can’t get enough of those. I also like to go to haunted houses every once in a while.

  8. I have three kids, so Halloween is alsways lots of fun at our house. I try to save money by using things around the house for costumes as much as possible. This year, my 8-year-old wanted to be a waffle. He eats Eggo waffles every morning.

    We cut out a giant cardboard circle, gridded it out, and painted 3-D brown shaded squares on it. We tied it around his neck with a ribbon and dangled an empty syrup bottle through the ribbon at the top. Then for his trick-or-treat bag, we took one of the jumbo waffle boxes we had in the garage from feeding him waffles every morning, and my husband bent in the flaps and taped a handle on it. That way in case anyone couldn’t guess, they’d be able to tell what he was by the box.

    We already had one trunk-or-treat at church, and his costume was a hit. People we didn’t even know asked to take pictures with him. It was a blast and only cost about $4 for the paint and ribbon.

  9. Hi Charlene! I enjoyed hearing about Halloween history–didn’t know some of this stuff. My favorite costume of my daughter’s was as a ghost when she was about 4. We took a sheet and cut out some eyes–but it was hard to keep it straight on her head, so she was always half-peeking out of it. And other, younger kids, were really afraid of her as she walked around. Very cute!

    Also–I don’t know if you saw my post on my Wed blog, but I just finished DO NOT DISTURB UNTIL CHRISTMAS

  10. DO NOT DISTURB UNTIL CHRISTMAS — I loved it! I loved the characters and the plotline–and it’s a very sexy read. Congratulations–no wonder it’s a bestseller right now! You’re so talented, Charlene, going back and forth from historicals to contemporaries. 🙂

  11. Loved all the history of Halloween, Charlene. Wonderful post.

    I do love Halloween, but I think I love it because I love this time of year, when the leaves are falling and the scent of apple cider and corn stalks are in the air.

    Wonderful post.

  12. Wow- I woke up and found all these wonderful posts about Hallween on the blog!

    I think my favorite costume was when my sister and I dressed up as crayons. That was fun! In the early years, I went in my Girl Scout uniform – my goodness, don’t think I could get into that now!

  13. Hi Kate- Thanks for the wonderful words about Do Not Disturb Until Christmas! So glad you enjoyed it!

    Hi Karen – It’s finally cooling down here in CA. It’s even gloomy outside, so it feels more like fall!

    Hi Elizabeth – I like seeing all the kids dressed up coming to my door too. How cool your daughter got married on Halloween. My girlfriend had a “renewal of vows” on Halloween and I went as a
    Bridesmaidzilla – that was fun!

  14. Hi Karen W – Your “waffle” costume sounds like a whole lot of fun! Very ingenius!

    Hi Taryn – I wish I could see pictures of your family today. Love all your Halloween costumes! But the one of you as a Texas Businessman cracked me up!

  15. My favorite way to celebrate Halloween is to drink apple cider, carve pumpkins and have a fun party at home with lots of food, candy, friends and family.

  16. I have a brother-in-law who is a leukemia survivor. He said he went to the doctor around Easter with a badly cut arm, no idea he had cancer. The doctor put him in the hospital and he didn’t emerge again until Halloween. He was about 25 years old. They released him right around Halloween with a good prognosis after having run him through so many treatments, including a then experimental bone marrow transplant.

    He’s celebrated Halloween ever since. And, since my sister married him the parties just keep getting bigger and more elaborate and more fun.
    Last year was his twenty-fifth year of celebrating life after cancer.

    So tonight, I’m taking some snacks and driving to their house. The party is always the weekend of Halloween but it doesn’t often fall right on Halloween so I’m not sure if we’ll have trick-or-treaters coming to their door or not.

    It’ll be great fun.

  17. I dress up in old time clothes the long dress’s my daughters one dress up in an old long dress the other as a witch.
    Happy Halloween, love passing out candy to the kids.

  18. Hi Mary – Oh, what a wonderful way to celebrate – life after cancer. Now that’s what it should be all about! Have great fun tonight!

    Hi all – I’m so happy to hear from all of you and your unique costumes! Egyptian princesses and Hawaiian dancers and Darth Vader and Waffles! Keep them coming!!

  19. I love Halloween… we decorate with tons of cute decorations… have a cauldron to store our candy in… I paint my face with either bats, pumpkins, cats, etc. or I make one whole thing across my entire face… I enjoy the spooky music, the cute kid costumes… 😀 Everyone enjoy!!! 😀

  20. I still enjoy seeing the babies dress up and I think my favorite costume is Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz…my grandaughter has this costume and it is:

    Original, simple, not hot or stuffy like some with masks, etc and cute, cute, cute!


    Have a wonderful weekend y’all!

  21. Hi Charlene, I just love Halloween, I love fall and fall colors. And I always visit a pumpkin patch somewhere. This year we took the grandbaby. He will dress as Thomas the Train tonight.

    One favorite from my kids’ childhoods was our son and his pals dressing as “Ghostbusters.” They had vacuum cleaner hoses hanging out of backpacks and a tape player playing the song.

    I loved the research you did, Charlene, on this fun holiday and its history.

    And I read Five Star Cowboy on our trip. Oh, everybody, it is soooooooooooooo good!!! Y’all are in for a great treat with that one.

  22. Charlene- After I get the pictures taken today and loaded up online, I’ll let you know where you can view them and I know I have my old picture of me dressed up as the Texas businessman somewhere- I’ll load it up, too.

  23. Hi Charlene, My favouite costume ever wore is of the philsbury dough man. I wore it as a joke as l am a pastry chef by profession. Moving in it though was hard as l had to walk side ways to fit through the door. LOL

  24. My favorite Halloween outfit is my usual jeans and
    tee shirt, topped by my big, black witch’s hat! I
    usually pull the “door duty,” doing the candy
    giveaway thing! We haven’t had children at home
    for years, so we really don’t do much. And sadly, the number of trick or treaters has diminished greatly in our area. I think we had about 15 or
    so last Halloween, the year before we had 7!

    Pat Cochran

  25. I really miss going trick or treating with my kids but they are grown now and giving out their own candy so the last few years my husband and I volunteer at our American Legion and we have a party for lots of children with games and treats and entertainment and then there is an adult party that we help prepare and serve a meal and have games and we all dress up and it helps make some money for the vets too. I am always a witch because when younger I had dark hair with this natural white streak and now I have white/grey hair. The kids that come to the door usually enjoy it lol.

  26. An interesting post, Charlene, but I do believe I’m in the minority here and I probably shouldn’t admit it, but I haven’t backed down from a challenge – yet.

    We don’t do Hallowe’en. We used to but when my daughter was young, she had nightmares for weeks after. Some people go all out and the effect is fantastic but it truly frightened her. (Yeah, I know that’s the idea.)

    In fact, for the past 6 yrs, our kids haven’t even gone to school on the 31st b/c the school encourages everyone dress up and even has a costume parade in the gym which includes all the preschoolers from town.

    The first time I pulled my kids from school for this, I rec’d a note from one teacher who said I couldn’t. I wrote back that ‘I didn’t believe sitting beside someone with an axe stuck in their head and blood dripping down their face was conducive to a healthy educational experience.’ No problem after that.

    However, the kids did go to school in costume today b/c my eldest is president of the student body and it’s her responsibility to introduce the participants at the costume parade today. Go figure. With the youngest in Gr. 5, we think they’re old enough now for discernment.

    Instead of going out tonight, the youth group is hosting a ‘nice’ costume party at the youth centre where no costumes from the ‘dark side’ will be permitted. sigh

  27. I mentioned earlier that we are seeing fewer children at the door on Halloween. We’ve seen
    that more churches and civic groups are going
    towards the “alternative” route. It provides
    a safer situation for children. In fact, they
    seem to be encouraging family attendance. By
    the way, the company my daughter works for did
    that very thing. They hosted a gathering for
    their employees and their families.

    Pat Cochran

  28. Hi charlene, one time l dressed as a butterfly, the party theme was nature, it had blue wings on it, l just loved it.

  29. You know, I really like the whole idea of a Harvest Festival. You know, the pumpkins, coloured leaves, apples, scarecrows, etc.

    I love driving past houses where the owners have gone out with their fall decorations.

    Aren’t pumpkin people on front lawns great?

  30. I enjoy taking the kids out to one of the local churches “Trunk or Treat”. It is fun to see the excitement on their faces. My 2 year old girl is going as Mulan anf my 5 year old is Bumblebee of The Transformers.

  31. My sister’s kids are all to big to go trick or treating, (I always got included with them). This is the second year I don’t have to get out, I do miss it!

    We live too far out for trick or treaters. My youngest great niece is going as a spider and the older one is going as “The little Mermaid”.

  32. Hi Everyone! I’ve been out and about this afternoon, but I’m back and it’s so good to hear from all of you!

    Anita Mae – I get it about Halloween. It’s not for everyone. My kids went to private Christian school in their early years and instead of Hallween, they dressed up for Colonial Day. The kids loved it and they had singalongs and plays at school regarding our history.

    I’ll be picking a random drawing for one of my books soon.
    Check back!!

Comments are closed.