Every October 31st, people all over the United States celebrate Halloween. Children and adults dress in costumes and attend parties, visit haunted houses, and eat Halloween candy. Most kids spend the night “trick-or-treating,” going door-to-door to collect sweets from their neighbors.
Although we consider Halloween to be a night of fun, it wasn’t always perceived that way. In fact, Halloween wasn’t always celebrated in the United States. How did Halloween become so popular? Here’s how the history of Halloween in the United States began?
In the mid-1800s, Irish immigrants came to the United States, bringing their Halloween traditions with them. This included dressing up in costumes, asking their neighbors for food and money, and pulling pranks in the evening on Halloween. Americans started doing the same thing, which eventually turned into what we now know as trick-or-treating
Halloween originated as a pagan festival in parts of Northern Europe, particularly around what is now the United Kingdom. Many European cultural traditions hold that Halloween is a time when magic is most potent and spirits can make contact with the physical world. In Christian times, it became a celebration of the evening before All Saints’ Day. Immigrants from Scotland and Ireland brought the holiday to the United States.
The commercialization of Halloween started in the 1900s, when postcards and die-cut paper decorations were produced. Halloween costumes started to appear in stores in the 1930s and the custom of ‘trick-or-treat’ appeared in the 1950s. The types of products available in Halloween style increased with time. Now Halloween is a very profitable holiday for the manufacturers of costumes, yard decorations and candy.
What Do People Do?
Halloween is usually celebrated amongst family, friends and, sometimes, co-workers. However, some areas hold large community events. Parties and other events may be planned on October 31 or in the weekends before and after this date. Adults may celebrate by watching horror films, holding costume parties or creating haunted houses or graveyards.
Many children dress up in fancy costumes and visit other homes in the neighborhood. At each house, they demand sweets, snacks or a small gift. If they do not get this, they threaten to do some harm to the inhabitants of the house. This is known as playing ‘trick-or-treat’ and is supposed to happen in a friendly spirit, with no nasty or mean tricks being carried out. However, if your children take part, it is important to accompany them and to check their ‘treats’ to make sure they are safe to eat or play with.
Some families carve lanterns with ‘scary’ faces out of pumpkins or other vegetables or decorate their homes and gardens in Halloween style. These were traditionally intended to ward off evil spirits. If you are at home on Halloween, it is a good idea to have a bowl of small presents or sweets to offer to anyone who knocks on your door. This will help you to please the little spirits in your neighborhood!
Halloween is not an official holiday. Government offices and businesses are open as usual and public transit services run on regular schedules. If you drive around in late afternoon or evening, it is important to keep a careful lookout for children who are unaccustomed to being out on the street after dark. If they are wearing dark costumes or masks, they may be less easy to see than normal. They may also be excited and dart out unexpectedly from between vehicles or behind bushes.
Americans do not stop at pumpkins, however. Windows, houses, trees: nothing is safe on Halloween in the USA! Everything gets decorated, and sometimes quite extremely – from spider webs and bats to skeletons, ghosts, and witches, even entire cemeteries can be found in front yards. By the way, the typical Halloween colors black and orange stand for death and the fall season.
Needless to say that Americans not only decorate their homes on Halloween but also passionately decorate themselves. The tradition can be traced back to the Samhain celebration, too. In those days, people disguised themselves in order to remain unnoticed by the spirits. The pranksters in the early 20th century also wore masks to be unrecognizable during their tricks.Nowadays, it’s all about getting attention: the more horrifying and sophisticated the costume, the better!Another very American way to boost your Halloween costume is to give it a good dose of sex appeal in addition to the obligatory creepy factor.
It’s a rather new tradition, but actually, it’s hard to imagine life without it. With the success of organized activities, Halloween has evolved from a celebration for children to a holiday for adults. Parties and parades such as the famous New York Halloween Parade now enable all generations of horror enthusiasts to transform themselves into the monster of their nightmares for a short time.
You are now up to date on the topic of Halloween in the USA. However, we have even more exciting posts for you about celebrations in the Land of Unlimited Opportunities. Learn more about other US holidays like Thanksgiving, Independence Day, or Memorial Day.
Referebce: timeanddate.com; info-america-usa.com