Halloween Traditions: A History

By Rachel Wolk | October 31, 2022


Photo Credit: Downtown Albany BID


Have you ever been curious about how different Halloween traditions became known across the world? You’ve come to the right place.


1. Bobbing for Apples


This long-standing tradition originated in Europe during the 14th century. Surprisingly, the game is related to romance rather than horror, as during this time, women would bob for apples in the water and bite into as many apples as possible until they found their suitor. The first person to bite into an apple would get married first, making it into a friendly competition among those who were looking into marriage.


There were many different variations of the game, but apples were a great source of sustenance and could be used in many ways. The tradition may also have something to do with the end of the harvesting season in fall and the start of chilly winter.


2. Halloween Parades


The first Halloween parade was held in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1905. The Halloween parades would divert those both young and old into embracing the Halloween spirit. Fun fact: New York City holds the world’s biggest Halloween Parade in Lower Manhattan every year. We see massive puppets, costumes, dancers, and music at the parade.


3. Teepeeing Houses


TPing houses involve tossing toilet paper over a person’s home or car. There isn’t really a backstory behind where the tradition came from, but it became popular through an episode of “South Park” when the main characters decided to “TP” their art teacher’s house as a prank.


4. Trick or Treating


Trick or Treating: there’s nothing like it. The tradition is timeless and you can honestly be of any age to participate. Trick or Treating traces back to Scotland and Ireland, where dressing up in costumes and going around asking for candy originated.


5. Haunted Houses


Haunted houses are what make a Halloween experience the most memorable. The rush of being frightened and the thrills are feelings you can’t find anywhere else. In 1915 England was when the first haunted house first appeared. This included dimmed lights, screams, and shakes everywhere you’d turn. The house was similar to a carnival, but with horrors lurking at every corner.


6. Corn Mazes


Corn mazes might be the scariest attraction you could attend on Halloween. The darkness and, well, being stuck in a field full of corn, is not everyone’s cup of tea. The first corn maze dates back to 1993 in Pennsylvania by two Lebanon Valley College students, Adrian Fisher and Don Prantz. It was called “The Amazing Maize Maze” and was on 3 acres and had 1.92 miles.

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