Halloween has been around for quite some time, but it hasn’t always been the candy and costume-filled holiday it is today.
2,000 years ago, Celts marked the end of summer and the beginning of winter by celebrating Samhain on Oct. 31, and even wore costumes. Because winter brought a lot of death, many believed ghosts returned to Earth on this day and the divide between worlds of the living and the dead was blurred.
The second night of the festival was known as All Hallows’ Eve, which was later shortened to Halloween. When Europeans immigrated to America, they brought their spooky and mischievous traditions with them.
One of the big things that stuck in the U.S. was pranks.
Kids would plant rope for people to trip over in the dark, and even coated chapel seats with molasses in 1887. To stop the destructive pranks, after World War II, the Senate Judiciary Committee recommended the holiday’s name be changed from Halloween to “Youth Honor Day.”
While the name didn’t stick, the idea of giving kids treats to discourage pranks did — but no one would get candy unless they asked politely. Thus the phrase “trick or treat” was born.
A 1952 Donald Duck cartoon about Halloween reached millions of homes and perpetuated that idea. Food companies took notice of the growing market and quickly jumped into the candy business.
By 1965, Halloween candy and costume profits had already hit $300 million.
Today, a quarter of all candy sold annually in America is purchased for Halloween, and sales are projected to reach $9 billion.
But if you’d rather celebrate the holiday as it was originally created, Samhain festivals are still held today.
Wherever and however you mark the day, Halloween is a historical holiday that’s not leaving this earthly realm anytime soon.