Halloween Comes to Tennessee

Ghosts, goblins, spooks, witches, pumpkins, candy, hay rides, bonfires, and so much more come to mind when thinking of Halloween. Honestly, the holiday is hard to explain and is rather odd when you think about it.

Its origin comes from the Celts and their festival of Samhain. During the Celtic Samhain festival bonfires were lit and people wore costumes to “ward off ghosts.” This was nearly 2,000 years ago in the area now known as Ireland. The tradition was one last summer fun night before the dark days of winter came. They believed that on this day, ghosts would return to earth, and for one night the living and dead would mingle. 


The holiday has an odd past and it has been known for many different traditions. Pope Boniface IV declared the day after Halloween to be All Saints’ Day. In the colonies, many celebrated the day telling ghost stories and making mischief. Halloween in Ireland was even known for match making during the 18th century, a ring was buried in the mash potatoes with hopes of true love. This is just a few of the ways Halloween has been celebrated throughout the years.

Halloween came to America around the 19th century when the Irish fled the Potato Famine. Popularity slowly grew, and mass media encouraged Americans to take the superstitions out of the holiday. Eventually Halloween became what we know it as today, simply fun and festive. 

When Halloween came to Tennessee it was a slow process. It was first recognized around the late 1800s but was mostly seen as a Catholic holiday, or a Scottish tradition about fairies and fortune telling. Others saw it as a European habitual of bonfires, apples, and rituals. Many simply deemed it an old time customary no longer in practice. 


True popularity of Halloween did not come until after World War II. Many credit the movie Meet Me In St Louis for normalizing the holiday throughout the states. The movie showed kids dressing up and trick or treating throughout neighborhoods, and after the war that’s exactly what was expected on the 31st of October each year. 


Today the holiday brings in about 6 million dollars in revenue. Candy, halloween movies, costumes, parties, and decorations fly off the shelves each year. 

Happy Halloween! 

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  1. https://www.worldhistory.org/Samhain/
  2. https://www.history.com/topics/halloween/history-of-halloween#:~:text=The%20tradition%20originated%20with%20the,of%20the%20traditions%20of%20Samhain.
  3. https://knoxvillehistoryproject.org/2019/10/02/50923/

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