“Trick or treat!” So goes the annual greeting from the candy-seeking children who arrive at our doors on October 31, Halloween night. But did you know that Halloween has been celebrated in Edmonton since the 1880s, and that the holiday’s roots go back even further? It’s true!

Origins of Halloween

Halloween’s origins are found in the ancient Celtic autumn festival Samhain (pronounced “sow-in”). The mix of harvest, supernatural beliefs, and rowdy celebrations has given our modern holiday much of its character. By 1550 Samhain had been Christianized to become All Saints’ Day, observed on November 1. However, celebrations on the night before, known as All Hallows’ Eve, retained some pagan character. The term Halloween grew out of All Hallows’ Eve, and was in use by the mid-1700s.

Halloween in Canada

Largely considered a holiday for children, Scottish and Irish immigrants brought Halloween to Canada in the 1800s. As a non-religious, non-ethnic, and non-political holiday Halloween quickly became popular.

Between the 1880s and 1950 Halloween in Edmonton was characterized by pranking, trick-or-treaters, costumes, and parties. Although Halloween has changed in the past 65 years, these early elements are all still important parts of the holiday.