Story by Jim Zang

Fall 2022

Did you ever wonder where the phrase ‘trick or treat’ came from? Or the term ‘Halloween Apples’? Or why people wear costumes at Halloween?

If so, you’ve got plenty of company because, while most people are familiar with the tradition of dressing up and going out to collect candy, very few could tell you how or where the tradition originated.

The ancient Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago, mostly in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1 with the festival of Samhain.

The festival signaled the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of winter. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they believed the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.

In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, the spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future.

During the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, while gathering to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.

By 43 A.D., the Roman Empire had conquered the majority of Celtic territory and, over the 400 years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.

One of these was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple, and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the saying ‘Halloween Apples’ and the tradition of bobbing for apples today on Halloween.

In 609 A.D., the Catholic feast of All Martyrs Day was established, which Pope Gregory III later expanded to include all saints as well as all martyrs, and moved the observance from May 13 to November 1.

The All-Saints’ Day celebration incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain and was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas and the night before, the traditional night of Samhain in the Celtic religion, began to be called All-Hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween.

As the beliefs and customs of different European ethnic groups and the Indigenous people meshed, a distinctly North American version of Halloween began to emerge. Public events were held to celebrate the harvest where neighbours would share stories of the dead, tell each other’s fortunes, dance, sing and encourage mischief-making of all kinds.

In the second half of the 19th century, America was flooded with new immigrants, including millions of Irish fleeing the Irish Potato Famine, who helped popularize the celebration of Halloween.

People began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s ‘trick-or-treat’ tradition.



If you’re looking to get your spook on this Halloween, there are plenty of options for ghosts and goblins of all ages right here in Airdrie.

Airdrie Abilities Centre Halloween Party

Drop by the DayBreak Community Church Thursday, October 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. A $5 admission fee for this event covers a pizza lunch and helps sustain AAC programming.

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Take a step to your left and a jump to your right at the Bert Church Theatre Friday, October 28, for a special movie presentation of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Dress up as your favourite movie character or come as you are. (Restricted to ages 18+).

Adopt a Grad Halloween Fundraiser

Help Airdrie high school grads out by attending this all-ages fundraising event October 28 from 5 to close at Glitch Gaming Lounge. Fun includes costume contest, silent auction, virtual reality, NHL console and eight ball tournaments (fee to enter).

¡Glitch! Gaming Lounge Adults only Halloween party

Leave the kids at home and join the gang at Glitch for a costume contest, dancing with DJ Big Deez and adult beverages on Saturday, October 29, from 8 to 12 p.m. Admission is $5 in advance or $10 at the door.

Halloween Jelly Bean Dance

Enjoy family fun, costume contest, prizes and giveaways at Glitch Gaming Lounge Sunday, October 30, from 3 to 6 p.m. Cost is $10 in advance or $20 at the door. per family.

Boo at the Creek

Boo at the Creek is back in full force for 2022 on Sunday October 30th from 1-4 p.m. at Nose Creek Park. The event promises to be bigger than ever and admission is free with a Food Bank donation. First held in 2015, Boo at the Creek is a Halloween-themed festival that appeals mostly to young families and kids. The festivities provide Airdrie’s youngest trick or treaters an early opportunity to don their Halloween costumes in a fun, family-friendly atmosphere.