Halloween - Origins, Traditions & How to Spend it

Heaps of carved pumpkins, spooky costume parties, and trick-or-treating - yes, it is that time of the year again. While Halloween isn’t very commonly celebrated in the Netherlands, for many of us it’s one of the most memorable nights of partying and fun with friends. However, back in the day, Halloween actually carried starkly different purposes and traditions that are very interesting to reflect on. Hence, the Estimator finds it only right to inform our readers of the origin of what is now a very westernized celebration. But more importantly,  how exactly you could celebrate Halloween this year! 


(Also make sure to watch out for our very exclusive Estimator quiz at the end to help you pick a costume in no time ;))


So what exactly does Halloween celebrate?


The roots of Halloween were found in the Celtic lands even before Christianity. In the beginning, it was merely a calendar holiday of agriculture that had nothing to do with the commemoration of the dead. At that time, Halloween was called Samhain, which meant "the end of summer." And of course, the end of summer marked the new beginning of a year, which was greeted with amusing ceremonies and eve celebrations. Similarly like we do today, greeting the New Year with fireworks and a glass of champagne. Perhaps celebrating the ends and new beginnings is one of the habits we carry through generations... In later times, the celebration also integrated the homage to the dead, which grew into the main intention of the celebration.


Some people try to derive the name ‘Halloween’ from the word Hell, but unfortunately, just like deriving the greeting ‘Hello’ from the same root, there is no etymological connection here, only a similar consensus. The name of Halloween itself is of Christian origin. It comes from the English language: ‘All Hallows ’Eve’ or ‘All Saints’ Eve’. Such a name has been mentioned in written sources since 1556 in a purely Christian context. In other words, the name marked the commemoration of All Saints. 


Although the roots of the Samhain Feast go back to ancient times, in 800 the Catholic Church Christianized the feast. Catholics have a tradition of inculturation, which means that anything that does not contradict the Catholic faith can be integrated into ecclesiastical practices. Thus, the celebrations continued, only with a different name and in a different sense. The Christianization of the holiday is when some of the present day halloween trademarks that we see today were first introduced. It was only in the 16th century when trick-or-treating became a tradition, and it took even longer, until the 19th century, for spooky costumes and Jack-o’-lanter to be born.


Now that we’re more familiar with how it used to be, let’s talk about what you could do for Halloween this year! 


3 suggestions for Halloween 2021


  1. Watch a movie

Do you even celebrate Halloween if you don’t have a horror movie night? To be fair, yes, horror movies can be pretty intimidating sometimes but invite your friends over, pop some popcorn, and enjoy each other’s funny faces and reactions.

Just like every year, there are quite a bunch of new horror movies, like “Halloween Kills” the follow-up of the iconic 2018 hit “Halloween”, “Hypnotic” (coming up on Netflix Oct. 27), or “Bingo Hell”.  

And of course, if you want a piece of old-but-gold, you will never go wrong with “The Silence of The Lambs” (1991) , “Aliens” (1986), or “The Shining” (1980). 


  1. Take a Ghost Tour in Rotterdam 

Did you know that the famous Erasmus statue in Grotekerkplein park is actually haunted? The legend says that if at midnight Mr. Erasmus turns his book page, something terrible will happen to the city. Fortunately, this hasn’t happened in a while, but according to locals, the last time Erasmus turned a page was on May 13th, 1940… the next day Rotterdam was bombed. 

To find out more about this and other haunted places in Rotterdam consider booking a tour at http://www.ghosttourrotterdam.nl 


  1. Costume, costume… Yes, Costume!

Of course, the parties are the highlights of this day, but you can’t attend a Halloween party without a costume! (Warning: being a tired econometrics student is not a costume!) 

Fortunately, this year has brought us a lot of iconic looks which potentially could be your look for this year! Just be creative, anything from recreating iconic cold Bernie Sanders memes to Kim Kardashian’s Met Gala look, is a great option. But if you lack ideas, feel free to take a Buzzfeed quiz we have prepared for you to find out which costume is the best match for you!  

(https://www.buzzfeed.com/giedrutekr/costume-ideas-fw07a311v5?utm_source=dynamic&utm_campaign=bfsharecopy )  


Have a spooktacular Halloween!

About this article

Written by:
  • Giedre Krotovaite
| Published on: Oct 25, 2021