Halloween Canceled Due to Spanish Flu

Americans today, 2020, saw the same problem of our ancestors in 1918 about having to balance a desire for fun at Halloween with the risk of catching and spreading a deadly disease. Shows history does repeat itself.

Many locations across the United States today recommend against trick-or-treating and bans against haunted houses, festivals and other traditional festivities that would fall under current Covid-19 health guidelines.

Back one hundred years, in 1918 was the second and worst wave of the Spanish Flu. Halloween parties in general, as well as other social functions during late October attracting large numbers of people were discouraged. This time frame was the peak of death right before Halloween. Schools, churches, sports games and theaters were already closed, overall widespread disruption and a sense that public gatherings were not a good idea.

Yet, there still were some locations, where people in 1918 were tired of remaining home and wanted to ‘let loose’ one night – that of Halloween. There were reports of people who did partake of Halloween events especially with many other people, who came down with the Spanish Flu.

Yet, you would think that taught our ancestors a lesson. No … with the end of World War One on Nov. 11, 1918, they truly wanted to celebrate and party in big groups. That resulted in even great numbers of people in hospitals and dying.

Even with a third flu wave in the spring of 1919, the health problem had eased by October 1919 and Halloween parties, festivals and events were held to everyone’s delight.

This was what happened with our ancestors in 1918 and now in 2020 a repeat of history. My husband’s family had a relative died Oct. 26, 1918, just a few days before Halloween.

Photos: Theaters closed in Oct. 1918; Everyone reminded to wear facial masks and Nov. 17, 1918 celebrations in the streets in NYC at the end of WW One.

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

Our Creepy Ancestors at Halloween

All-Hallows Eve for Adults

History of Trick or Treating

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