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As the weather gets colder and fall rolls around, many of us begin to look forward to Halloween. The costumes, decorations and special events combine to form a uniquely American holiday.  From haunted houses to scary costumes and jack-o’-lanterns to ghost stories, the holiday is deeply steeped in tradition. But where did it come from? Why do we make this annual trek toward the spirit world? In honor of Halloween, we’re taking a closer look at the origins of this spooky celebration.

Halloween’s origins can be traced back to antiquity. Most point to Samhain, a Celtic festival which commemorated the end of the harvest season and the blurring of the physical and spirit worlds, as Halloween’s forebear. Over the ages, the holiday evolved, taking on Christian influences, European myth and American consumerism.

The original citizens of the United States, the Wampanoag tribe, celebrated a fall harvest festival called Mashepetsuk. The English settlers adopted this celebration into what became known as the Thanksgiving holiday.

Trick or treating, costumes and pumpkins aside, Halloween is most likely as much about eating and drinking as it is about wearing a mask. So grab your broomstick, gather up your friends and head down to the beach for one of the biggest parties of the year.