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The Legend of Haunted Halloween

Published by Mimi Escober

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Origins of the ghost holiday

It turns out that the well-known Halloween Holiday dates back to 2,000 years ago with the ancient Celtics. They celebrated their Celtic festival of Samhain on October 31 the day just before their New Year on November 1. The Celtics believed that the night before the New Year opens up the underworld in which the dead or spirits and ghosts will return to earth. They also relied heavily upon priests to make predictions for the future harvest.

Christianity had a Saints’ Day celebration called All-Hallowmas or All-hallows on November 1. November second was All Souls’ Day to honor the dead and October 31 or the night of Samhain All hallows Eve or Halloween. During Samhain there would be dressing up of costumes of saints, angels, and devils which passes on today in which people dress up for trick or treating.

The Legend of Haunted Halloween

What began as a Celtics Season that signaled many deaths and sickness turns Halloween into a foreboding holiday in which stories and legends of haunted ghosts and haunted houses spreads. Black cats bring bad luck, the idea of witches and spells, and haunted houses.

In 18th century Ireland, women tried to predict their future husbands and cook potions and food to predict their futures.

Perhaps the haunted part sparks from the idea that the dead can be spooky and fearsome. Some may have seen apparitions or illusions of apparitions out of love or guilt. The ideology spreads as society creates haunted houses for amusement.

Famous Historical Ghost sightings include the ghost of Anne Boleyn who was hanged for witch craft in the 16th century and Benjamin Franklin in the library of American Philosophical Society in Pennsylvania and Abraham Lincoln, our 16th president who was assassinated.

Haunted Areas

Some places have haunting due to the horrific incidents that had occurred there. Famous battlefields around the world are especially haunted. Battle sites from the Civil War in the 17th century, the Somme of Northern France and World War I sites of the Gallipoli near Turkey.

New York City has been reported to have haunting by vice president Aaron Burr who killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel in 1804. His specter haunts the restaurant “One if By Land, Two if By Sea”. In addition, the author Mark Twain haunts the stairwell of his old house and Poet Dylan Thomas occupies his table at the West Village’s White Horse Tavern, where he drank himself to death in 1953.

Halloween and Pumpkins

Did you know pumpkins are fruits? They are part of the gourd family of squashes, cucumbers and melons. Pumpkins have grown in North America for five thousand years. Pumpkins are picked in October at their ripest in which they turn a bright orange.

The legend of Jack O Lantern comes from the Irish myth of a man nicknamed Stingy Jack. According to the story, Jack was invited by the Devil to have a drink with him. True to Jack’s name, he didn’t want to pay for the drinks so he actually convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin so that Jack could use it to buy their drinks. However, after the Devil obeyed Jack, Jack kept the coin instead and since he kept the coin next to silver cross the devil could not turn back. Eventually Jack freed the Devil on the condition that he couldn’t come back to bother him for one year. Upon returning the next year, the Devil got tricked again, this time the devil would not be freed from coming back down a tree since Jack carved a sign of a cross on the tree’s bark unless the Devil does not come to haunt Jack for ten more years. Soon after, Jack died. Yet God would not allow Jack into heaven nor did the Devil into hell keeping his word of not claiming Jack’s soul. Jack was sent off into the dark with only a burning coal. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and the Irish has ever since named Jack’s journey as Jack of the Lantern or Jack O’ Lantern.

People in Scotland and Ireland started carve frightful faces into turnips and potatoes to scare away Stingy Jack and other wandering spirits. Beets were used in England and later pumpkins in America.

Halloween and trick or treat

When Halloween spread to America through Immigrants, the idea of trick or treat begins. During Colonial America people would dress up and go from house to house to ask for food or money. They would also hold parties to share ghost stories, dance and sing. Some also played pranks and mischief.

Trick or Treating took its origins from All Souls Day in which families would give soul cakes to the poor so that in return they would pray for the family’s dead relatives.

Slowly children would visit neighborhood houses for treats.


Personal Experience

“Origins” History.com

“Historical Stories” History.com

“History of Jack O Lantern” History.com



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