Skip to main content


Halloween – Traditions to Today on the Suncoast

| Angela Naff |

Halloween is one of those holidays people either love or do nothing for but stay home and hope it passes. Truly if you ask about traditions, most everyone had them for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. Halloween, though…well, there seem to be two camps on this holiday. The ones that go all out, and you know who they are if you take a look around any neighborhood. There are graves, skeletons, elaborate macabre setups in the family’s yard. Everyone knows the house to go to trick or treating. And then some hunker down with a good book, turn off the porch light and let the night pass just like any other. The truth is this holiday has an odd beginning, and the celebrations of Halloween passing here on the Suncoast and across the world vary from low key to scary enough to leave you with nightmares for weeks.

Halloween’s History

Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago, mostly in the area now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France celebrated their new year on November 1.

This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred on the night before the new year. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.

Druids built huge sacred bonfires to commemorate the event, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes.

In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints. Soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, festive gatherings, donning costumes, and eating treats.

Modern Day Halloween

Halloween today is considered a mainstream holiday here in America, but it was not until the 1800s. Due to the huge immigration of Scottish and Irish these ancient traditions were brought here to flourish. Today, it is a holiday that makes the end of October a unique experience everywhere, whether you love or hate it. People try to outdo themselves to win costume parties, showing flavors of themselves in their selections they normally wouldn’t. Jack-o-lanterns burn brightly, a long-held tradition of fires burnt to ward of demons haunting homes and guide spirits home.

While today most will be focused on the fun side of the holiday and the trick or treating – most of these elements of the holiday we celebrate have historic significance from the early beginnings of this holiday. Today though, this holiday has also become the second highest-grossing holiday of our calendar year next to Christmas for consumers. Another interesting fact is that it is the number one highest-grossing holiday for candy sales, topping $5 billion.

Halloween Post 2020 Here on Suncoast

Perhaps the scariest Halloween in recent years was 2020 when the pandemic was scarier than the holiday itself. As many of us recall, last year was definitely unlike any Halloween before. Indoor social settings were nearly nonexistent, going house to house for trick or treating was definitely not recommended, and the world was scary without this holiday. This year though, many are trying to get back into the hang of things, and there are several Halloween functions for individuals of all ages to participate in outside of trick or treating alone.

  • Halloween at the farm – 377 Inverness Rd, Venice, FL 34292-2554 – Halloween trunk or treat event at Inverness Farm. We will have a costume party for children, adults, AND animals
  • The Children’s Garden Nature Halloween Party – 1670 10th Way Sarasota, FL 34236 – Calling all goblins, ghosts, witches & fairies to our 18th Annual Halloween Celebration, featuring interactive Halloween activities that celebrate nature! (also, they have the Monster Mash Halloween Cupcake Craft on Sunday)
  • Bill’s Beer Run – Halloween Day – Casey Key Rd, Nokomis, FL 34275 – The 33rd Annual BBR race. Come dressed up in your most creative Halloween costume!
  • 18th Annual Halloween Safe Kids Night – 1402 14th Ave W, Palmetto, FL 34221 – One of our favorite events of the year! We can’t wait to see all of our favorite ghouls and goblins at the Manatee County Fair Grounds
  • Halloween Bash at Mattison’s City Grille – 1 N Lemon Ave Sarasota, FL 34236 – Kickstart your Halloween weekend with our Friday night at Mattison’s City Grille!
  • 17th Annual Wesley Chapel Fall Festival & Worlds Largest Food Truck Rally12 – 2300 Grand Cypress Drive, Lutz, FL 33559 – Wesley Chapel Fall Festival returns for its 17th year with a weekend full of fun for the whole family including 2 community stages, costume contests, petting zoo, pony rides, kids zone with bounce houses and activities, Fall Pageant, Live DJ all day, a pumpkin patch & the Trunk or Treat.
  • Boo! at The Bazaar – 821 Apricot Ave., Sarasota – The Bazaar on Apricot & Lime will celebrate Halloween on Saturday, October 30 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at its usual market spot. Kids can go trick-or-treating through the vendor sports. Costumes are encouraged. Get free Halloween air brush tattoos.
  • The Boo Run! At Nathan Benderson Park5851 Nathan Benderson Circle, Sarasota – Join fitness community Camp Gladiator on Saturday, Oct. 30, at 7:30 a.m. for its annual Boo Run. The 5K race begins at 8 a.m., but arrive at 7:30 a.m. for check-in and a group photo in costumes.
  • Fright Night on St. Armands431 St. Armands Circle, Sarasota – Celebrate the 13th anniversary of this family-friendly event from 6-8:30 p.m on Halloween. Storefronts will be decorated for Halloween and the circle’s statues will be dressed in the spooky spirit. Kids can trick-or-treat at the retailers and restaurants will have special promotions.

Whether you love Halloween and go all out, attend parties or throw one yourself – this is your big day coming up. Enjoy fun, frivolity, and maybe be someone totally outside of who you normally would for one night. Let’s all enjoy a safe and fun Halloween as we take a moment to reflect on the old traditions that evolved into this holiday we all know today.


Photo courtesy of Deposit Photos

Skip to content