Having a “Halloween season” that lasts from roughly Labor Day until Oct. 31 is a relatively recent phenomenon, but the beloved holiday when all things spooky-scary are celebrated was already quite popular in eastern Pennsylvania nearly a century ago.
According to a story that appeared in the Oct. 31, 1922 edition of The Morning Call under “Bethlehem News,” various Halloween–or Hallowe’en, as it was then spelled–parties had been held or were planned throughout the city.
That evening, parades were to be held in South Bethlehem, Hellertown and the long-lost neighborhood of Northampton Heights, which was demolished in the 1960s so the former Bethlehem Steel Corporation could expand its operations. Northampton Heights at the eastern end of South Bethlehem, on land that today is being redeveloped as an industrial park.
Of course, parties and parades remain popular at Halloween-time in 2021. Most parades nowadays are held during the daytime, however. This year Hellertown’s Saucon Valley Spirit Parade will be held Sunday, Oct. 24 at 2 p.m. and Coopersburg’s Halloween Parade will be held Sunday, Oct. 17 at 3 p.m.
The 1922 article makes no mention of Trick-or-Treat, so it’s unclear if folks would have had any little ghouls or goblins at their doors at night, hands held out in the expectation of receiving sweets after yelling “Trick or Treat!” However, the website History.com notes that during the 1920s, pranks were increasingly commonplace on Halloween.
“By the 1920s…pranks had become the Halloween activity of choice for rowdy young people,” the site notes its story, How Trick-or-Treating Became a Halloween Tradition. “The Great Depression exacerbated the problem, with Halloween mischief often devolving into vandalism, physical assaults and sporadic acts of violence. One theory suggests that excessive pranks on Halloween led to the widespread adoption of an organized, community-based trick-or-treating tradition in the 1930s.”
The story further notes that following World War II, with the onset of the Baby Boom, Trick-or-Treat developed into the multi-billion dollar candy grab that it is today.
This year, in Hellertown, Trick-or-Treat will be held on Sunday, Oct. 31 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Trick-or-Treat in the Southern Lehigh area will be held Friday, Oct. 29 from 6 to 8 p.m.
About this column: Olden Days is a Saucon Source series in which newspaper articles in the public domain are used to recall area news from the late 1800s and early 1900s. You can help support “Olden Days” by making a voluntary contribution and becoming a Saucon Source member today. Learn more here. And don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter, to receive the latest news delivered to your inbox three evenings per week. Got an idea for an Olden Days subject? Email it to email@example.com.