Who Brought Halloween to Michigan?

A few years ago historian Bill Loomis did an interview with Detroit News in which he discussed how Halloween came to be celebrated in Michigan—who brought it here? What did they do to celebrate Halloween?

Halloween came to Michigan in the 1840s when a large population of Scottish and Irish immigrants came over. It of course tied into All Souls Day but certain traditions/games came over including: People gathering around the hearth on Halloween night to tell spooky stories, roast chestnuts, bob for apples etc. One particular gross game that little girls played was believe it or not to eat an entire raw herring within a certain number of bites. That night when the little girl went to bed she would be shown visions of her true love.

Post-Civil War gave rise to the Ouija board, spirit photography, and séance parties. These games were especially popular with women. (You have to remember that infant mortality rates were much higher infant mortality rates in 1912 were approx. 150 per 1000–they wanted to make connections with the other side.)

When did trick or treating as we know it come to be? It wasn’t until much later, during the 1950s that trick or treating door-to-door began gaining popularity. Television shows like Ozzie & Harriet brought the idea of trick or treating around. Prior to this the thought of handing strangers candy was—ridiculous. Sugar was in short supply and expensive. Popular costumes included boys dressing like girls, devils, and angels.

Do you remember your first trick or treating experience? What was your costume?

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