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History of Halloween

Halloween has been celebrated for years, but do you ever wonder how it got started? KSMU's Jana Greer tells us about the history of Halloween.

Going back thousands of years, Halloween first began as a Celtic Celebration of the end of summer and the beginning of winter. But the winter was often associated with human death and the Celtics believed that the night before November first, the boundary of the living and the dead was blurred. They commemorated this night by dressing up in animal furs and building bonfires. Kim McCully is an English teacher at Aurora High School and teaches Folklore at Drury University.

She says as Christian influence spread, the Catholic Church changed the pagan holiday into a Christian one by making November first All Saints Day to honor saints and Martyrs.

The celebration was called All-hallows Day and the night before All-Hallows eve, and later Halloween. In the mid 1800s immigrants came to America and McCully says they brought their traditions with them.

In the late 1800s there was a move in America to make Halloween a holiday about community get togethers instead of ghosts, pranks and witches.

Because of the high numbers of babies born during the 1950's baby boom, Halloween became more of a children's holiday. Since the Celtic Holiday began it has continued to change over the years. Halloween is the 2nd largest holiday and on average people in the U.S. spent 6.9 billion dollars on Halloween decorations, costumes and related items last year.