October 30, 2013
Guest post | Halloween History: Part 2 with Rachel of Things I've Seen And Heard
I'd like to ask you all to again welcome Rachel of Things I've Seen and Heard, who brings us the second half of Halloween history as today's guest post. (You can read the first half here.) Thanks so much for doing this, Rachel!
Alright, so now we've got the origins down. Let's fast forward to World War I and the 20th Century.
Up to this point, All Hallows Eve was pretty mellow, really just an autumn festival, with cider and pumpkins, and MAYBE friends sitting around a fire telling ghost stories, but nothing too extravagant. But during the hard times of WWI, to keep people's spirits up, people started neighborhood and community parties, just to have something fun to look forward to while their boys were away.
Later, during the Great Depression, it turned into a holiday for vandalization, because what else were poor hungry children going to do? There are stories as bad as setting buildings on fire and putting soap on the tracks so train cars would derail. This is another reason mischief is associated with Halloween.
It was getting really bad, so some people decided to come up with a diversion for kids so that, ya know, they wouldn't break their windows and tee-pee their house (yes, this is where that comes from ...). In Anoka, Minnesota, they decided to have the FIRST real Halloween parade, inviting kids to dress up in fun costumes and walk through the streets of town—and it worked! Anoka still puts it on every year and they consider themselves the Halloween Capitol.
Other people decided to throw community parties for children with candies and treats and decorations and costumes, which ALSO worked, keeping the children off the streets and from vandalizing their houses. This idea caught on ALL OVER the country! This was the beginning of Trick or Treat—yep only as old as the 30s, 40s and 50s—crazy!
And better yet, it worked! Not to say people don't still do dumb stuff, as anyone who's been through high school knows kids still tee-pee and egg houses on Devil's Night, the night before Halloween.
So we've pretty much established all the basis of the Halloween we know and love today, but can't leave out the extrememly important elements of TV, MOVIES AND POP CULTURE!
Although there were spooky references in movies here and there, it wasn't until 1966 when It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown premiered on television reaching every home in America—this was when Halloween became an American standard and really becasme a tradition everyone wanted to enjoy. Thanks Charles Schulz!
Fast forward about ten years, and we have John Carpenter's infamous Halloween. This was the first Halloween themed movie, and it was also the breathrough from B-movies into legit horror genre. It was also the start of companies making masks of scary horrific beings, specifically Mike Myers, followed by Freddy Kruger and Jason, etc.
This was also the change-over of Halloween being just a kids tradition to an all-ages tradition! At the start in the 30s, 40s and 50s, it was purely a children's holiday, but now all those children were adults and still wanted to celebrate. To this day, Halloween is now enjoyed by ALL ages! (except high schoolers, because they are obvioulsy way too cool to do something silly like Halloween ...)
As you can see, there is a long intricate history involving many traditions from all over the world and I wouldn't have it any other way!
And once again, if you have any questions about the history of Halloween, please leave them in the comments.
HAPPY HALLOWEEN Y'ALL!