Vintage Photographs and customs from a 1920s/30s Halloween3 min read
Today, we associate October 31 with candy, costumes, and creepy decor. But, have you ever thought about the origin of Halloween and how the ghoulish holiday has evolved over the years? Halloween has very ancient origins. Traditionally linked to the Anglo-Saxon world, Westernization and globalization have now led it to become everyone’s cultural heritage, even in other parts of Europe. The genesis of the holiday is controversial, but it is probably common to Celtic and Roman festivals, in a mix of celebrations that coincided with the Samhain, the Celtic New Year, but also the Latin festivals dedicated to Pomona and the celebration of the deceased loved ones, the Parentalia.
It is interesting to see how in the Anglo-Saxon culture the festivity was already universally recognized in the past, masking school children and generally celebrating on a widespread level what had long been a national holiday.
The following photographies (from Pinterest) date back 20s / 30s and represents costumes, gadgets and settings from the United States of a century ago.
Believe it or not, there’s a lot of info about vintage Halloween you might not know, like the fact that holiday planning in the early 1920s would start as early as August, or that apple-bobbing emerged!
The holiday we know and love as Halloween got its roots from the Celtic festival of Samhain, during which folks would light bonfires and dress up in costumes as a way to ward off spirits before All Saint’s Day on November 1. However, these Halloween traditions moved to America around the early 20th century, when the spooky affair became synonymous with parties, parade, treats, and costumes.
You’re probably accustomed to buying your own Halloween costume every year, but up until the late 1940s, most people handmade their own creations. Today, in the United States, market prices for vintage costumes in mint condition run the gamut from $75 to $1,500 for cartoon characters, television stars, or politicians!
In 1919, Ruth Edna Kelley wrote The Book About Hallowe’en, which still remains one of the greatest historical accounts of the holiday. With poems, games, and folklore, it’s a must-read for anyone wanting to get the full Halloween backstory up until current days.
Maybe Halloween decoration lovers don’t know that this popular American custom back to 1920 when Pennsylvania-based company Beistle Company introduced a hair-raising line of party goods that helped popularize the tradition. Halloween parties became popular in the 1920s, reaching peak popularity in the ’30s. Planning for these elaborate fêtes would sometimes kick off as early as the summer before, usually in August.
The American tradition of trick-or-treating as we know it today may have started with kids trading songs for treats in the early 20th century, but it really gained popularity in the ’30s and ’40s, when children were offered everything from homemade treats to coins, toys, and fruit. However, It wasn’t until the 1950s that candy companies began specifically promoting their products for Halloween. But, if you remember, the original Jack O ‘Lantern was not a pumpkin at all!