Find out what day Halloween 2017 falls on—plus, Halloween history, recipes, crafts, poetry, folklore, and more.
Where Did Halloween Come From?
The origin of Halloween can be traced to Samhain (pronounced sow-in, which rhymes with cow-in), which was an ancient Celtic festival that was celebrated to mark the end of harvesttime and the beginning of the new year. The ancient Celts believed that the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead was at its thinnest during Samhain, thereby making it a good time to communicate with the deceased and to divine the future. Samhain is Gaelic for “summer’s end,” a day to bid good-bye to warmth and light as day length shortens.
Brief History of Halloween
Following the Roman Empire’s rule over Celt-occupied lands in the 1st century A.D., the Romans incorporated many of the Celtic traditions, including Samhain, with their own. Eight hundred years later, the Roman Catholic Church further modified Samhain, designating November 1 as All Saints’ Day, in honor of all Catholic saints. This day was formerly known as Allhallowmas, hallow meaning to sanctify, or make holy. All Saints’ Day is known in England as All Hallows’ Day. The evening before, October 31, is known as All Hallows’ Eve, the origin of the American word Halloween!
If All Saints brings out winter,
St. Martin brings out Indian summer.
In later years, the Irish used hollowed-out, candlelit turnips carved with a demon’s face to frighten away spirits. When Irish immigrants in the 1840s found few turnips in the United States, they used the more plentiful pumpkins instead. See more about the ancient traditions of Halloween.
Halloween Dates: What Day Does Halloween Fall On?
|2017||Tuesday, October 31|
|2018||Wednesday, October 31|
|2019||Thursday, October 31|
|2020||Saturday, October 31|
Halloween Crafts and Ideas
Get into the Halloween spirit with these seasonal crafts!
- Pumpkin-carving tips and tricks
- A pumpkin seed necklace
- Pumpkin Spice Mix
- Really cool carved pumpkin designs
- Native American corn husk dolls
- Apple heads
Credit: Susan Valladao; Carved by Mike Valladao
Three Seasonal Poems for Halloween
by May Sarton
On random wires the rows of summer swallows
Wait for their liftoff.
They will soon be gone
Before All Saints and before All hallows
The changing time when we are most alone.
Disarmed, too vulnerable, full of dread,
And once again as naked as the trees
Before the dark, precarious days ahead
And troubled skies over tumultuous seas.
When we are so transparent to the dead
There is no wall. We hear their voices speak,
And as the small birds wheel off overhead
We bend toward the earth suddenly weak.
How to believe that all will not be lost?
Our flowers, too, not perish in the blight?
Love, leave me your South against the frost.
Say “hush” to my fears, and warm the night.
All Souls’ Night, 1917
by Hortense King Flexner
You heap the logs and try to fill
The little room with words and cheer,
But silent feet are on the hill,
Across the window veiled eyes peer.
The hosts of lovers, young in death,
Go seeking down the world to-night,
Remembering faces, warmth and breath—
And they shall seek till it is light.
Then let the white-flaked logs burn low,
Lest those who drift before the storm
See gladness on our hearth and know
There is no flame can make them warm.
Theme in Yellow
by Carl Sandburg
I spot the hills
With yellow balls in autumn
I light the prairie cornfields
Orange and tawny gold clusters
And I am called pumpkins.
On the last of October
When dusk is fallen
Children join hands
And circle round me
Singing ghost songs
And love to the harvest moon;
I am a jack-o’-lantern
With terrible teeth
And the children know I am fooling.
Happy Halloween, Almanac fans! Stay safe out there and have fun.