Last Updated on October 1, 2021
Halloween’s celebrated costume parties and trick and treating traditions are relatively young. They only date back a century or so.
However, Halloween superstitions started thousands of years ago through the Celtic Samhain – a festival in autumn where people believed the dead could revisit the earth. Most of today’s spooky Halloween traditions came from these old beliefs.
Jack O’ Lantern Keeps the Ghosts Away
Jack O’ Lanterns are prominent fixtures during Halloween. People carve lanterns and light them up with candles to keep the darkness at bay. Historians believe that the Celts began this tradition. The Celts were headhunters who take the head of their preys to eradicate the souls of the dead. They then displayed the heads as trophies to scare away evil spirits.
In different parts of the world, the name Jack O’ Lantern is believed to come from an evil man named Jack. He was thrown away from heaven because of his bad deeds. But, even in hell, Jack didn’t learn his lesson and continued to be wicked.
Annoyed, the Devil himself gave him a lantern and sent him away to wander forever. Today’s Jack O’ Lantern is a reminder of how a man’s evil deeds can bring him to a journey with no end in sight.
In Ireland and some parts of England, the lantern heads were carved turnips. At harvest time, they are placed on windowsills to keep homes safe. When the Irish immigrated to the US in the 19th century, they used pumpkins instead primarily for their color.
A Black Cat is a Signal for a Witch Nearby
On Halloween, it’s believed that when you see a black cat, a witch is near where you are. Today’s depiction of black cats and witches are mainly related to bad or negative things. Black cats are deemed to bring bad luck while witches are considered evil. But, in the olden days, these were not the case.
For centuries now, women were thought to have an instinctual way of communicating with the spirit world. Isis and Bastet, goddesses in ancient Egypt, were revered for their magic skills. Bastet was known as the protector of homes, fires, and cats.
In fact, her temples are still decorated with statues of black cats. So, even during the early times, there was already a connection with women, magic, and black cats. However, it was only centuries later when people started to accuse and punish women of dark witchcraft.
In the 17th century, the fear of witchcraft was so distinct that most villages banned black cats. The Puritans also believed that All Hallow’s Eve was the time of the year where witches have their Sabbath. Because of the strong Puritan influence, the connection between the black cat and witchcraft are still associated to Halloween up to this day.
Fortune-telling is Sound on Halloween
The Celts believed that every October, the physical and spiritual world drew close to one another. As such, it’s the time of the year when fortunetelling is at its strongest. In the past, people only almost asked the same thing: the men – particularly the farmers – ask about the weather and harvest time; the women inquire about marriage and children.
Because Halloween takes place when the crops are about to be reaped, fruits and nuts were used for fortune-telling. Apples, in particular, were prominently used before to “tell the future.” For instance, to see how many children a woman would have, an apple would be cut horizontally and the number of seeds represent her “kids”.
To Avoid Ghosts on Halloween, Just Choose Treat…
…and never trick. Haunted Halloween goes way back when the Celts believed that during Samhain, the spirits traveled between the physical and spiritual worlds. Bonfires were lit to attract the spirits while simultaneously keeping them away from their homes.
To placate the ghosts, the Celts would offer sacrifices – mostly composed of newly harvested food and spices (which is where the increase in popularity of pumpkin pies and spice-flavored pastries during the fall seasonoriginated). The food sacrifice was considered a ‘treat,’ but it’s also a ‘trick’ to appease the spirits.
Make Noise to Scare the Evil Things
It’s believed that bad spirits are afraid of noise. Today’s Halloween celebrations are packed with noisemakers with children screaming ‘trick or treat’ and the constant ringing of doorbells. Some even have fireworks to liven up the occasion.
This noisy tradition began centuries ago with children using small pans and bull-roarers to scare not just the spirits on Halloween, but even one another.
A Halloween Costume Can Protect You from Evil
Since the very beginning, wearing a disguise on Halloween was the norm. It’s said to be a way to protect oneself from evil spirits as they would think you’re someone else. The Victorians were the first ones to popularize costume parties during Halloween. People also wear masks that look like Guy Fawkes Day to hide their true natures.
There are tons of superstitions surrounding Halloween. Some are downright frightening, and others are totally outrageous. Instead of scaring yourself with these beliefs, just enjoy these spooky quotations meant for All Hallows Eve:
88 Inspirational Halloween Quotes
“Tis the night—the night
Of the grave’s delight,
And the warlocks are at their play;
Ye think that without,
The wild winds shout,
But no, it is they—it is they!” – Arthur Cleveland Coxe
“I was born on the night of Samhain, when the barrier between the worlds is whisper-thin and when magic, old magic, sings its heady and sweet song to anyone who cares to hear it.” – Carolyn MacCullough
“The wind outside nested in each tree, prowled the sidewalks in invisible treads like unseen cats. Tom Skelton shivered. Anyone could see that the wind was a special wind this night, and the darkness took on a special feel because it was All Hallows’ Eve. Everything seemed cut from soft black velvet or gold or orange velvet. Smoke panted up out of a thousand chimneys like the plumes of funeral parades. From kitchen windows drifted two pumpkin smells: gourds being cut, pies being baked.” – Ray Bradbury
“The farther we’ve gotten from the magic and mystery of our past, the more we’ve come to need Halloween.” – Paula Guran
“Oh how the candles will be lit and the wood of worm burn in a fiery dust. For on all Hallow’s Eve will the spirits come to play, and only the fruit of thy womb will satisfy their endless roaming.” – Solange Nicole
“Halloween is an ancient druidic holiday, one the Celtic peoples have celebrated for millennia. It is the crack between the last golden rays of summer and the dark of winter; the delicately balanced tweak of the year before it is given over entirely to the dark; a time for the souls of the departed to squint, to peek and perhaps to travel through the gap. What could be more thrilling and worthy of celebration than that?” – Jenny Colgan
“First of all, it was October, a rare month for boys. Not that all months aren’t rare. But one strange year, halloween came early….don’t you ditch me jim nightshade…don’t talk death. Someone might hear…” – Ray Bradbury
“The murmurings and mutterings grew even more freakish and grotesque as Halloween slithered ever closer.” – Kevin Purdy
“Halloween was the best holiday, in my opinion, because it was all about friends, monsters, and candy, rather than family and responsibility.” – Margee Kerr
“A pumpkin lives but once a year
When someone sets its soul afire
And on that night it stirs up fear
Until its flame is snuffed.
But e’en one night of eerie light is fright enough.” – Richelle E. Goodrich
“It is Halloween,” he explains coyly. “I wanted to come out as something beautiful. None of this witch stuff for me. My God, don’t we spend our whole life as witches?” – Paul Russell
“I dropped the candies into the children’s bags, thinking: You small mortals don’t realize the power of your stories.” – Karen Russell
“Halloween is a day in which some people choose to wear a mask… while others finally feel safe to take theirs off.” – Steve Maraboli
“The pumpkin itself is a symbol for mortality. Like mortals, the pumpkin seed is planted in the darkness of the earth, where it is left to search for the light. When the plant finally sprouts, it travels along the ground, as if in search of its place in the world. Then, once the pumpkin has found its place, it blossoms into a fruit that towers above all others. And when the pumpkin is ripe, it’s a veritable life-giving force.” – Seth Adam Smith
“I’ve always loved Halloween: the one day of the year when you can blatantly dress as your number-one obsession and people will smile instead of snicker.” – J.C. Lillis
“Go put on your mask.
Say ‘trick-or-treat’ in costume.
It’s All Hallows Eve.” – Richelle E. Goodrich
“Halloween creatures both friendly and gruesome peered out of the rustling leaves.” – Kevin Purdy
“Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Christmas and the others can end up making you sad, because you know you should. But on Halloween you get to become anything that you want to be” – Ava Dellaira
“Halloween shadows played upon the walls of the houses. In the sky the Halloween moon raced in and out of the clouds. The Halloween wind was blowing, not a blasting of wind but a right-sized swelling, falling, and gushing of wind. It was a lovely and exciting night, exactly the kind of night Halloween should be.” – Eleanor Estes
“On ol’ Halloween Night
These monsters join the living
If they had it their way
They’d stay until Thanksgiving” – Casey Browning
“Where there is no imagination there is no horror.” – Arthur Conan Doyle
“She used to tell me that a full moon was when mysterious things happen and wishes come true.” – Shannon A. Thompson
“I love Halloween, and I love that feeling: the cold air, the spooky dangers lurking around the corner.” – Evan Peters
“Every day is Halloween, isn’t it? For some of us.” – Tim Burton
“During the day, I don’t believe in ghosts. At night, I’m a little more open-minded.” – Unknown
“Listen to them — the children of the night. What music they make!” – Bram Stoker
“Men say that in this midnight hour, the disembodied have power.” – William Motherwell
“There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls.” –
“We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!” – Humbert Wolfe
“I must go in. The fog is rising.” – Emily Dickinson
“Beware! As you trick or treat. These creatures will find you and make you smell their feet.” – Casey Browning
“There is nothing funny about Halloween. This sarcastic festival reflects, rather, an infernal demand for revenge by children on the adult world.” – Jean Baudrillard
“Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth — more than ruin, more even than death.” – Bertrand Russell
“Will we ever stop being afraid of nights and death? When you reach the stars, boy, yes, and live there forever, all the fears will go, and Death himself will die.” – Ray Bradbury
“I can see lights in the distance trembling in the dark cloak of night
Candles and lanterns are dancing, dancing a waltz on All Souls Night.” – Loreena McKennitt
“You’re just spooked. It’s Halloween; we’re all kind of spooked. That’s just the way it is.” – Matthew Leeth
“A house is never still in darkness to those who listen intently; there is a whispering in distant chambers, an unearthly hand presses the snib of the window, the latch rises. Ghosts were created when the first man awoke in the night.” – James Matthew Barrie
“Being in a band you can wear whatever you want – it’s like an excuse for Halloween every day.” – Gwen Stefani
“She comes by night, in fearsome flight, in garments black as pitch, the queen of doom upon her broom, the wild and wicked witch.” – Jack Prelutsky
“Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing,—
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.” –
“Halloween is an opportunity to be really creative.” – Judy Gold
“Some people are born for Halloween, and some are just counting the days until Christmas.” – Stephen Graham Jones
“But I love Halloween, and I love that feeling: the cold air, the spooky dangers lurking around the corner.” – Evan Peters
“It’s said that All Hallows’ Eve is one of the nights when the veil between the worlds is thin – and whether you believe in such things or not, those roaming spirits probably believe in you, or at least acknowledge your existence, considering that it used to be their own. Even the air feels different on Halloween, autumn-crisp and bright.” – Erin Morgenstern
“I love the spirit of Halloween and the energy that comes with it.” – Katharine McPhee
“Halloween isn’t the only time for ghosts and ghost stories. In Victorian Britain, spooky winter’s tales were part of the Christmas season, often told after dinner, over port or coffee.” – Michael Dirda
“The worst thing about Halloween is, of course, candy corn. It’s unbelievable to me. Candy corn is the only candy in the history of America that’s never been advertised. And there’s a reason. All of the candy corn that was ever made was made in 1911. And so, since nobody eats that stuff, every year there’s a ton of it left over.” – Lewis Black
“If human beings had genuine courage, they’d wear their costumes every day of the year, not just on Halloween.” – Douglas Coupland
“No trick or treaters came to my house for Halloween. For some reason, people around here are scared of me.” – Glenn Danzig
“Acting is like a Halloween mask that you put on. – River Phoenix On Halloween, the parents sent their kids out looking like me.” – Rodney Dangerfield
“Halloween starts earlier and earlier, just like Christmas.” – Robert Englund
“People value Halloween, like Valentine’s Day, because they can tell themselves that it’s not merely secularized but actually secular, which is to say, not Christian, Jewish, Hindu or Muslim.” – Amity Shlaes
“I love scary movies. I like blood and gore, and I love Halloween movies.” – Carrie Underwood
“If ever there was a holiday that deserves to be commercialized, it’s Halloween. We haven’t taken it away from kids. We’ve just expanded it so that the kid in adults can enjoy it, too.” – Cassandra Peterson
“The great thing about candy is that it can’t be spoiled by the adult world. Candy is innocent. And all Halloween candy pales next to candy corn, if only because candy corn used to appear, like the Great Pumpkin, solely on Halloween.” – Rosecrans Baldwin
“I see my face in the mirror and go, ‘I’m a Halloween costume? That’s what they think of me?’ – Drew Carey I only eat candy on Halloween. No lie.” – Michael Trevino
“Halloween is my favorite holiday, and I always go all-out with my costumes.” – Ginnifer Goodwin
“Every Halloween for six years, I was a Ninja Turtle, and Mikey was my favorite. The turtles really made me who I am today. They got me into martial arts, meditation, surfing, skateboarding; big time influence on who I am today.” – Greg Cipes
“I dressed up as a veterinarian for a Halloween costume party. I had the lab coat. I got a couple of stuffed animals for patients and put bandages on them.” – Tracy Chapman
“Halloween is bigger than Christmas in America. I’ve experienced it in New York, Los Angeles and Washington D.C., and if you’re in the right neighbourhood, every house is decorated with spooky ghosts, spider webs, and jack-o-lanterns.” – Rhys Darby
“Seems like Americans just want it to be Halloween all year. The holiday just keeps getting more popular. – Amity Shlaes There’s so many kids who only know me from the video game. And they want to know if I’m home – and if I have a video game I can give them on Halloween. And sometimes they’re surprised to learn there actually is a ‘Madden.’” – John Madden
“On Halloween, don’t you know back when you were little, your mom tells you don’t eat any candy until she checks it? I used to be so tempted to eat my candy on the way to other people’s houses. That used to be such a tease.” – Derrick Rose
“When it comes to romance, I’m really simple. I am really a ‘dinner and a movie’ type of person, and I love food, so surprise me and order something different or adventurous when it comes to food, and I’m like a kid at Halloween.” – Sasha Grey
“I have a huge costume section in my closet – wigs, mustaches, the whole thing. Halloween’s my favorite holiday, so I have a lot of weird stuff.” – Clark Duke
“This Halloween, the most popular mask is the Arnold Schwarzenegger mask. And the best part? With a mouth full of candy you will sound just like him.” – Conan O’Brien
“Halloween is one of my favorite days of the year. I have a strict rule: I don’t work on Halloween and I won’t travel on Halloween. Not for any reason.” – Simon Sinek
I came from a Halloween-friendly home. My dad, Spencer, was a U.S. Marine captain. But when it came to Halloween, my dad had a soft spot. He would take his three sons and friends on escapades on Halloween night.” – Bill Moseley
“I was the ghost-faced killer for Halloween in the third or fourth grade. – Rory Culkin One year, I was a go-go girl for Halloween, and I got all this glitter eye shadow, my hair was poufy with braids, I was wearing all these different colors and fake eyelashes that went all the way up to my eyebrows. I totally enjoy the whole Halloween feel.” – Olivia Holt
“It seems to me that Halloween is the perfect time to get all over steampunk.” – Gail Carriger
“I wanted to – any chance I had to dress up as a boy, like Halloween, I would be a pirate or a ghost that wore a tie. A hobo.” – Jane Lynch
“I really love scary movies, so I’m all about Halloween.” – Normani Kordei
“I’m cool with people dressing up as Eleven for Halloween. I definitely want to open my door and give them candy.” – Millie Bobby Brown
“I wasn’t allowed to have sugar as a kid. We didn’t have candy or soda or anything, so Easter and Halloween were my favorite times ’cause I could eat as much candy as I wanted.” – Kaley Cuoco
“I am unusually Halloween-attentive, because, as it happens, I was born on Halloween, so for me it has always been an occasion of great moment.” – Susan Orlean
“’Halloween’ is classic Michael Myers. – Dylan Minnette All my life, I have been a celebrant of Halloween. For me, it is the most important day of the year, the turning point in the old pagan calendar.” – John Burnside
“We used to go around tipping outhouses over, or turning over corn shocks on Halloween. Anything to be mean.” – Loretta Lynn
“I would love if gay men responded to me. All I want is for many gay men to dress up as me for Halloween.” – Mindy Kaling
“When I was a kid I got busted for throwing a rock through a car window and egging a house on halloween.” – Gavin DeGraw
“I was kind of a dark kid. I loved Halloween, and I loved vampires and the black and white old monster movies.” – Joe Manganiello
“When I was in the 9th grade, on Halloween night, when you’re supposed to go and out and burn your city, my mom made me go to ‘Cirque du Soleil.’ I was kicking and screaming. This girl came out onstage, and I was instantly mesmerized. I dropped out of school and became obsessed with her. I saw the show, like, 70 times.” – Troy Garity
“I always loved Belle from ‘Beauty and the Beast’. I always thought I looked like her, so I dressed like her for every Halloween.” – Sofia Carson
“When I was a kid, Halloween was strictly a starchy-vegetable-only holiday, with pumpkins and Indian corn on the front stoop; there was nothing electric, nothing inflatable, nothing with latex membranes or strobes.” – Susan Orlean
“I refuse to dress ‘hot’ for Halloween, ’cause I always have to have makeup and hair and look cute for my job. So on Halloween, I either go gory or weird or funny.” – Rachel Platten
“I actually have a stash of wigs for Halloween. But only for that. Not to play dress-up.” – Alexa Vega
“They did that little thing on South Park, and they mentioned my name and had a character of me judging a Halloween contest. It was really funny. That made me the coolest aunt on earth.” – Tina Yothers
“Like at Halloween: I knew I’d arrived when I saw people dressing up on Halloween as my character. -Jane Badler One year, my family and I dressed up in the theme of ‘Wizard of Oz’ for Halloween. We all went as the different characters. I was the Tin Man!” – Luke Benward
“There was a lot of playing by myself, wearing last year’s Halloween costume and wandering around the yard talking to myself – which may account for my fondness for doing different voices.” – Jefferson Mays
“I start lighting pine-scented candles the day after Halloween.” – Mary Page Keller