My Guests

From Samhain to Halloween by Irene Peterson, Author of Kiss My Ectoplasm

Happy Halloween! It’s all treat for you today with my delightful guest, author Irene Peterson.

Thank you, Babette, for letting me join you on your blog, especially on my favorite day of the year!

Allow me to take your readers on a little trip through time. Back, back through the darkness to the single digit century, maybe 1100 years ago, when the residents of northern Europe were Celts, living rough lives, stomping around the ruins of Stonehenge and celebrating the end of the growing season in a holiday called Samhain (pronounced Sawen). They built bonfires to keep away the dark because this one night of the year, the door between the living and the dead opened. They were uncertain what would happen in the dark. Perhaps the dead might take a person back to the underworld with them! Masks and costumes could fool the dead for sure. Religious ceremonies doubtless took place, perhaps some sacrifices, but special attention was paid to the dead. They were honored, food and drink laid out for them and probably much cavorting in the light of the fire took place because, well, that’s probably what the folk did back then before being locked in their huts to endure the hardships of the inevitable winter.

By the 9th century, when the Catholic Church had its say, Samhain converted to All Hallowe’s Eve, a time to prepare for the next day, the one which was set aside to honor the saints. Funny thing about saints, any dead person could potentially be one later on, so why not celebrate the departed, who might still roam the earth, the night before? Samhain in disguise. And to make things slightly more acceptable to the Church, why not name the day after All Saints’ Day a day to remember all the lost souls, wherever they might be? So, we have three days to resemble a pagan holiday and All Hallowe’s Eve became Hallowe’en.

By the middle of the 19th century when, due to the horrors of the Irish potato famine, many impoverished Irish found their way to America. Being of Celtic origin, they still had this thing for the bonfires of Samhain, but kept away the night by hollowing out huge turnips and putting candles in them. America had few turnips but lots of pumpkins. The immigrants enjoyed going from house to house and offering to pray for the departed as long as the residents paid them off with small cakes. In the old country, getting small favors or coins probably didn’t happen during the famine, but over here in America, the practice started up again as the Irish enjoyed a somewhat better life.

By the early 20th century, Halloween caught on big time. Americans not necessarily of Irish heritage took to wearing costumes to foil the things that went bump in the night. No one really can pinpoint when trick or treating came about, but it was fun for kids by the late 1930s, even with the depression. Sometimes, the tricks became so violent and nasty that the holiday got banned! Moving outhouses could be very nasty.

I started enjoying Halloween by the early 1950s. Oh, what a wonderful time it was! I lived in a small town in the middle of New Jersey. Houses were close together. We’d take pillow cases with us to have our neighbors fill with candy—nickel bars—and go from house to house from after supper till eight o’clock if the holiday fell on a school night. We’d wear costumes made from our family’s old clothes. Sometimes we’d wear store bought ones, but they weren’t big in my neighborhood.

My mother was a stickler for preparing the one meal she ever made that kept us in the house until after six. A gross rice dish that took her hours to make and us hours to eat. Every single year, she made this stuff and we struggled, already in our costumes, to finish supper so we could get out and get our swag for the year.

To hear the leaves crunch beneath our feet! To feel the chill urging us on so we would run from house to house! To think how much candy we could accumulate! Ah, could any night be any more wonderful than this?

I can remember sitting on the living room floor with the contents of the pillow case spread before me, gaily sorting the nickel bars (candy bars the size of something you can buy for a buck now) and matching those by brand. Tossing the little junky stuff in bags (people who gave that stuff got their car windows soaped the next year) into a bowl for Dad to eat, dividing chocolate from non-chocolate, getting rid of Necco wafers and popcorn balls because they were gross to me. What fun! What a stash! If one were careful and not piggy, the candy could last until Easter at least when the Bunny brought more candy to our house.

To this day, when we ride though the country and I see houses scattered with long distances between them, I think, “Ah, poor kids! They must not be able to trick or treat very well out here.”

***I was born on November first, three hours after Halloween, much to my regret. Halloween would have been much more appropriate for me!

My world extends beyond huggy kissy romance to the world of vampire killers and two mad-cap ghosts in my latest novel on Amazon for Kindle, Kiss My Ectoplasm. You can take a look at the adventures of a psychic and her nemesis, a Nobel prize winning physicist as they do battle with Lost Generation ghosts in jolly old England.

You can find Irene on the web at:


Blog: Author Page:

Kiss My Ectoplasm
You can find Kiss My Ectoplasm at

Dead Dreams
You can find Dead Dreams at

3 thoughts on “From Samhain to Halloween by Irene Peterson, Author of Kiss My Ectoplasm”

  1. Dear Irene,
    So nice to catch up with you again!! I hope you’re feeling well. This is a great article. I, too, have finally joined the romance group officially with my romantic suspense, Dangerous Relations, which came out a few weeks ago with Uncial Press.

I love comments!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.