October History Highlights

October is finally here and with it comes Halloween music and decorations. Along with the holiday candy and movies, here are a few historical treats for the trick-or-treating season: 

Oct. 1 

The German army occupied the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia in 1938, spurring a peace agreement between Britain and Germany, which Germany later broke.

Ford’s Model T car went on sale for the first time in 1908. 

Oct. 4

On this day in 1582, the Gregorian calendar took effect in Catholic countries. 

Oct. 8

In 1871, the Great Chicago Fire erupted. The fire eventually leveled three and a half square miles and destroyed 17,450 buildings. 

Oct. 13

In 1775, the United States Navy was born after the Second Continental Congress authorized the acquisition of a fleet of ships.

Oct. 16

Queen Marie Antoinette was beheaded during the Reign of Terror in 1793 following the French Revolution. She was the wife of King Louis XVI and had become one of the symbols of people’s hatred for the old regime. 

Oct. 31

While the concept of trick-or-treating did not begin in the U.S. until the 1950s, the idea of All Hallows Eve or a night of spirits and witches has been around for hundreds of years. All Hallows Eve was originally celebrated as far back as the 7th century CE. It was a pagan festival that actually took place on May 13. It was later changed to Oct. 31 and coincided with the ancient Gaelic festival of Samhain, which was a time when people believed the connection to the afterlife was especially strong. People celebrated these holidays dressed up in costumes and carved lanterns from gourds. This is similar to the costumes and jack-o-lanterns seen today.