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Halloween as we now recognise it is a relatively new holiday, especially in the UK. Halloween originates from the Celtic festival Samhain and started being known as all hallows eve in the eighth century after it was integrated with the all saints day holiday on November 1st. It wasn’t until centuries later that all hallows eve started to be known as Halloween. 

Halloween, when it was originally celebrated, resembled bonfire night more than it did modern-day Halloween with a tradition of a bonfire being lit. 

Halloween traditions and the popularisation of Halloween accelerated in the last victorian era in America with an influx of immigrants coming into America leading to the mixing of different traditions and celebrations of autumn holidays. 

Trick or treating is based on European traditions and started as going around in costumes asking for food or money. At the start of the 20th century, the Halloween party was developed and would often be across entire neighbourhoods. 

It was around this time as well that Halloween started to lose its links to superstition and religion as newspapers encouraged parents in America to leave out anything ‘frightening’ or grotesque’ of celebrations. 

In the 20s, the neighbourhood Halloween parties accelerated to full-blown parades and still remained very community centred. However, this is also where communities saw a rise in vandalism on Halloween (e.g. throwing eggs and toilet paper at houses). 

It wasn’t until the 50s that Halloween celebrations started to scale down and started being targeted specifically toward children. This was mainly due to the baby boom and communities not being able to accommodate the sudden influx of residents. Celebrations downscaled from town halls to classrooms and houses. 

The 70s saw the birth of the Halloween sub-genre of horror movies, of course being spearheaded by the appropriately titled cult classic ‘Halloween’ franchise. This also could be considered the start of the very popular slasher film genre. 

However, a now-extinct tradition of Halloween that not many people know about is the link between Halloween and matchmaking. Which in itself sounds like an odd pairing, a holiday centered around the creepy and mysterious surely can’t have much in common with people’s love lives. 

Yet back when Halloween was still a new holiday in the late 1800s young women would perform superstitious traditions in order to attempt to identify their future husbands with the hopes that if they succeed, they would be married by the time the next Halloween rolls around. These practices often involved the use of apple peels and hazelnuts but varied quite differently in different parts of the world. 

By Jasmine Walker 

A levels

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