Way Back When: Spanish Flu Cancels Halloween

Image: New York Public Library

By Betsy J. Green

Back in October 1918, the “Spanish influenza” scare was alarming the parents of trick-or-treaters, and put a damper on the demons on the streets of Santa Barbara. Although it was not stated in the local papers, I’m guessing that there was also enough news about deaths from disease and World War I that folks lost their joy in celebrating the macabre.

The local paper wrote, “Flu puts quietus on even decorous revelry in celebration of Halloween. The Board of Health has issued orders forbidding ghosts to walk or congregate on Halloween this year, owing to the prevalence of the Spanish influenza.”

Betsy’s Way Back When book — 1919 — is now available in local bookstores and at Amazon.com. This is the sixth book in her series of the history of Santa Barbara, one year at a time. Learn more at betsyjgreen.com​


Written by bjgreen

Betsy J. Green is a Santa Barbara historian and author. Her books are available in local bookstores, and at Amazon.com. (Shop local if you can.) Learn more at betsyjgreen.com.

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