Why is candy so important on Halloween

Halloween 2020: origin, meaning & customs

Many Germans celebrate Halloween on October 31st, and Reformation Day is increasingly taking a back seat. But what many do not know: Halloween also has Christian references.

For many, Halloween is a day of commerce - Halloween items generate over 160 million euros in sales every year. The time before Halloween is therefore used by many industries as additional business before the Christmas business.

But the tradition of lifting the veil between the living and the dead on the evening before All Saints' Day is anchored in the Celts - and was also strongly influenced by the Catholic Church.

Halloween origins: The customs of Samhain

Halloween has an Irish origin and goes back to one of the four great Celtic festivals: Samhain. Samhain means something like the "end of summer" and was celebrated as Oíche Shamhna beginning on the eve of November 1st. The Celts believed that that evening the gates to the underworld were open.

The dead are to walk back on earth at Oíche Shamhna to visit their relatives. The Celts welcomed the dead with candy and lights. Others, however, feared that the dead wanted to take revenge on them and therefore disguised themselves in death-like and eerie disguise to ward off evil spirits.

The festival was mainly celebrated in the Catholic parts of the British Isles. The areas in which the Anglican Church had a major position celebrated the Reformation that day.

What does Halloween have to do with the Catholic holiday of All Saints?

Halloween did not come to America until the 19th century with the Irish emigrants who brought and cultivated their customs. The traditions of the jack-o'-lantern and sweets have prevailed to this day. The term Halloween goes back to "All Hallows Eve" - ​​the evening before All Saints' Day.

The deceased are commemorated on the religious holiday of All Saints' Day, November 1st. One day later, on November 2nd, is All Souls Day. This holiday is dedicated to both the deceased and their souls.

Custom of the carved pumpkin: Jack O'Lantern and the devil

The day before All Saints' Day the story began when the devil was once again looking for new souls. In a pub he met the Irish blacksmith and drunkard Jack Oldfield to get him. This offered the devil his soul in exchange for one last drink. Lucifer didn't mind buying him the last drink. Since the devil had no money with him, he turned himself into a coin. Instead of paying with it, Jack put the coin and a silver cross in his wallet. Lucifer was trapped and could not change back.

Deal with the devil

In a deal, he proposed to Satan that he be released if he did not molest him for ten years. The deal was done. After ten years the devil returned to the pub, where he met Jack again. Jack asked for one last favor again: he wanted a freshly picked apple as a hangman's meal. When Lucifer wanted to pick the apple for Jack, Jack carved a cross in the apple tree and the demon was caught again. So Jack offered to remove the cross if he would leave him alone for eternity. The devil had no choice but to agree.

When Jack died an old man one day, nobody in heaven wanted him because he had been a cowardly drunk in life. And the devil didn't want to take him to hell either. Jack only received a piece of coal from the devil, which he used as a light to wander forever between the worlds. Jack put this in a hollowed out turnip, which he used as a lantern. To this day he has a light that accompanies him on his eternal journey.

Halloween pumpkin as Jack O'Lanter becomes a custom

What the turnip used to be is now the pumpkin. Since there were few turnips in America, the emigrated Irish used pumpkins instead. This is how the custom with the pumpkins came about. Based on the beet lantern from Jack O’Lantern, Halloween pumpkins are hollowed out, decorated with candles and set up before All Saints Day.

The creepy grimaces are placed on the terrace or in front of the front door to chase away evil spirits and demons. In addition, small gifts or sweets were often added to cheer the evil spirits.

Halloween saying should bring sweets to children

Children used all the customs around Halloween to dress up and play the roles of evil spirits. They then go from house to house to proclaim "Trick or Treat". If the landlord doesn't sell sweets, the little ghosts are playing a trick on him. But there are also other sayings that you can say on this day.

How the custom came to Germany

The Halloween festival was basically completely unknown in Germany until the 1990s. The festival only became known here after the second Gulf War in 1991 - not out of solidarity with the USA, but for economic reasons. In many cities, the carnival parades were canceled for reasons of piety and the costume manufacturers were left with their goods. As a substitute, the companies made Halloween popular through clever media work. Of course, other industries, such as the candy industry, gradually jumped on this bandwagon and brought special Halloween products onto the market. However, Halloween is not a public holiday in Germany.


In a study, the University of Dortmund suggests that Halloween is celebrated in a more American way in Germany than in the USA. According to this, Halloween is staged darker and more spooky in Germany than in the USA.

Halloween festival: decorations, costumes and lots of pranks

Nowadays, Halloween is very commercial. Sales with Halloween articles are over 160 million euros annually. The time before Halloween is therefore used by many industries as additional business before the Christmas business.

Especially the Halloween costumes and the Halloween decorations are becoming more and more sophisticated: huge masks, cut off limbs from which blood splatters or elaborate light shows are currently important accessories for spicing up the disguise. Famous characters from film and television are also particularly popular, such as Halrey Quinn and the Joker from "Batman", Stephen King's horror clown Pennywise or the robbers from "House of Money".

So that you draw everyone's attention with a very special costume, it is best to make your own costume. You can easily get inspiration from social networks.

When doing the pranks, make sure that not all are allowed. Sometimes they can get you into real trouble. With simple firecrackers, fog, creepy laughter, red food coloring, or washable fake blood on walls and hallways, you can easily scare kids that ring the bell.

Halloween finds more followers in this country from year to year. So you'd better have sweets at home - otherwise there's treats!