until October 31st, 2017
Halloween Facts and History
Halloween is an annual holiday that is celebrated in the U.S. and throughout the world, mainly in western countries. The holiday has different meanings to different people, but most people associate it with a celebration of the spooky and scary.
When Is Halloween?
Halloween is held on October 31st, the day before the Christian holiday All Saint’s Day. The holiday is also referred to as All Hallows Evening, All Hallows Eve and All Saints Eve.
The History of Halloween
While some historians have differing opinions, the prevailing history around Halloween is that the holiday grew out of Samhain, a pagan festival celebrated by the Gaelic people of Ireland and Scotland. The festival marked the end of the harvest and the start of the winter season. Celebrations included large bonfires, dressing in costumes and large feasts.
During the 12th Century, All Saints Day became a day of Holy Obligation for Catholics in Ireland and Scotland, meaning that it was a day when people were expected to attend mass. Gradually, Halloween became incorporated into the tradition with the All Saints Eve being a time when Christians remembered the dead. This is how the association with scary things became a part of the Halloween celebration.
While All Hallows Eve was celebrated by some colonists in the early days of America, it wasn’t until large numbers of Irish immigrants arrived in the U.S. during the 19th century that the holiday became popular in America. By the early 1900s, decorations for Halloween were being sold in stores.
Modern Celebrations of Halloween
Halloween is not an official holiday in the United States; however, roughly 70 percent of Americans celebrate it in some way. Communities across the country hold parades, festivals and parties on Halloween or the days that lead up to it, and many companies and individuals throw parties to celebrate the occasion.
Dressing up in costumes is one of the most common traditions surrounding Halloween. For adults, witches, pirates, vampires, superheroes and cats are the most popular costumes year after year while popular children’s costumes include princesses, superheroes, fairies and vampires. People may dress up for community celebrations and parties at home, work or school.
Trick-or-treating is a Halloween tradition that many children enjoy. Kids dress up in costumes and knock on neighbors’ doors, saying trick or treat and are usually given candy or other small gifts. This tradition grew out of mumming or giving performances door-to-door, which was a common part of Samhain celebrations. The phrase ‘trick or treat’ is meant to indicate that if a treat isn’t given, the child will play a trick or prank on the neighbor; however, this is not usually done.
Halloween has become a major holiday in the United States from a retail standpoint with Americans spending $7.9 billion on the holiday. In addition to buying candy and costumes, Americans also purchase decorations for their homes and yards to celebrate the occasion. Some people also send out greeting cards to friends and family on Halloween.