The Spookiest Time of Year

Historical Halloween Stories at the Library of Congress




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History buffs can enjoy a collection of historical Halloween stories, music, and movies at the Library of Congress. These stories tell the origins of Halloween and how it evolved from pagan celebrations. They also help make the holiday more exciting for kids! You can learn about all of these stories and enjoy Trick-or-treating differently. The Library of Congress offers a collection of Halloween tales and music over 200 years.


Historical Halloween stories often tie the Celtic festival of Samhain to the modern holiday. It is interesting to note that ancient cultures often aligned monumental structures with major solar events, such as the stone circles in Ireland’s Neolithic (Stone Age) culture. The ancients even divided the year into halfway points to mark cross-quarter days. Samhain was an important day for the Celts because it marked the start of the dark days.

Today, we celebrate Halloween on November 1 in the West, but its roots date back thousands of years to the Celtic festival of Samhain. Samhain was an important festival for the Celts, who believed that the occult spirits returned to haunt the living after death. The Celts celebrated Samhain in the autumn when the summer’s harvest season ended and winter began. The Celts believed that on the night before Samhain, the veil between the worlds was the thinnest and that the dead could return.

Celtic festival of Samhain

In ancient times, Samhain was associated with the dead, the transition from autumn to winter, and the change of seasons. People observed this day by celebrating with feasts and communal activities. Later, All Hallows’ Eve was turned into a night of prayer, fasting, and preparation. And in the Middle Ages, the holiday was associated with the new year. Today, it is the most popular holiday in the United States, with approximately 40 million people celebrating it.

Samhain was also a time for fortune-telling, as it was considered the most auspicious day of the year. The Celts also incorporated divination into their lives, and we can see vestiges of this tradition in Halloween traditions. Observers of the tree’s foliage or fruits can see the spirit of a deceased person’s life in the coming year, and brave observers could even meet their own spirits. Girls could see their future spouse or husband in the mirror, or they could run the risk of meeting the devil.

All Hallows’ Eve

The first historical halloween stories date back to Ireland and Britain, where the Celts celebrated the holiday Samhain. Their culture was pre-Christian, and their calendar was based on the seasons. In Celtic culture, Samhain marked the end of summer and the beginning of harvest, and it also represented the boundary between the worlds. Eventually, the festival came to be known as Halloween. Today, Halloween is a popular celebration worldwide, and is celebrated on the night before All Hallows’ Eve.

In many cultures, Hallows’ Eve is linked to religion. The Samhain festival was associated with all those who had gone before, the earth, and the year’s changing. During this time, people would hold celebrations, feasts, and other communal activities. In some areas, All Hallows’ Eve became a night of prayer, fasting, and vigil. It was also a time of reflection and preparation for the New Year.

The history of Halloween extends beyond ghosts. Halloween costumes and masks have deep roots and represent human fears and hopes. While modern Halloween costumes are filled with scary creatures, the ancient world’s costumes symbolize human vulnerability. They serve as a reminder of the underlying human condition and offer a means to confront the ghosts and spirits in the world. While modern traditions focus on Halloween horrors, the Irish have long been a source of inspiration.

History has an interesting connection to Halloween. One scholarly reference to the holiday is Dr. Alois Doring, who wrote several books on brauch and the Rhineland. His book, “Rheinische Brauche Through the Year”, argues that the German celebration of Halloween is not as British as it may seem. The Germans were very religious and revered the holiday. It is possible to trace Halloween’s roots to a specific historical event by using historical accounts.

Poe’s “The Child That Went With The Fairies”

The tale is set during Halloween in the British Isles. The story tells of a young girl who goes to a magical land where the Fairies live. The child is enchanted by the fairies and goes on a baffling journey. Poe’s tale has all the flavor of that period, and it’s not hard to picture that time’s furnishings, art, and costumes. Like most of Poe’s tales, it has a mad element that accounts for the supernatural and brings the horrors into the realm of the ordinary. Even if these things don’t have any horrors, they still manage to captivate the imagination.

An 1850s story inspired the novella by German author Goethe called “Erlking,” about a man and his young son riding home. The child complains that the Elf King is chasing them, but he rejects it. The father becomes worried when the child becomes increasingly hysterical, and when they reach home, the child is dead. The tale weaves Irish legends about fairies into an Anglo-Irish political allegory.


Many of us love to dress up for Halloween. We dress up as our favorite movie character or animal, carve pumpkins, and play pranks on each other. For the brave, we watch scary movies and go ghost tours. But what do historical Halloween stories about trick-or-treating have to do with trick-or-treating? Read on to find out! Despite its sinister origins, Halloween is still a very popular celebration, and there is no shortage of tales about trick-or-treating.

During the Great Depression, Halloween mischief grew out of control and became a source of violence and vandalism. In the 1930s, community leaders and parents took action to curb this problem. Trick-or-treating became widespread and, by the 1950s, was morphed into a popular, organized community activity. Even today, the tradition of trick-or-treating has a rich history.

While Halloween is a modern celebration, it has its roots in pre-Christian Celtic customs. The Celts, who lived in northern France and Ireland, believed that the dead returned to the earth on Samhain, or “All Hallows Eve.” People would light bonfires and make sacrifices to appease the spirits. As a result, they were more likely to encounter ghosts than candy.

Today’s trick-or-treating has many similar elements to the original Halloween celebration, Guy Fawkes Night. It commemorates the foiled Gunpowder Plot, which took place in 1605. British children wore masks, carried effigies, and begging for pennies. In 1605, Guy Fawkes was executed for his role in a plot to overthrow King James I. This tradition survived and evolved into a Halloween costume party.

Traditions Around the World

There are a variety of traditional Halloween activities and customs, and each country has its version. Irish people, for example, celebrate Halloween by carving pumpkins and neep lanterns. They also have a tradition of bobbing for apples and eating treacle scones without their hands. Children are often dressed up in costumes and go trick-or-treating. Other rules include carving Jack O’Lanterns and decorating homes with pumpkins. Some countries also eat potatoes hollowed out and decorated with witches and ghosts.

In Mexico, people light a jack-o-lantern, originally a night watchman or a man with a lantern. The Day of the Dead is a day to honor the dead, and the Germans celebrate “All Saints Day” on the day after Halloween. They also keep their knives and weapons out of their homes on Halloween night. Meanwhile, Mexicans and Spanish people celebrate “All Souls’ Day” on the day after Halloween.

Irish immigrants brought jack-o-lanterns to the United States in the 19th century. Today, many countries celebrate Halloween as a day to remember the dead. In the United States, the holiday is more about trick-or-treating than candy-giving. However, many countries have retained their own Halloween traditions, and you may enjoy traveling to different countries this fall to observe the customs of other cultures. It’s always a good idea to explore a country’s culture when it comes to Halloween.

Chinese people have many different Halloween traditions. For instance, they light candles on photographs of their deceased relatives to bring them closer to their spirit. Other Chinese people light lamps and bonfires to attract the spirits of their departed loved ones. In Thailand, the Hungry Ghost Festival, which falls on the seventh day of the 7th lunar month, attracts hungry ghosts. These ghosts are the spirits of people who died unnaturally and have forgotten their true identities.

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