Halloween’s origins go back thousands of years to the region known today as the U.K. and Ireland. The ancient Celts celebrated their new year on November 1st during this time. But it was on the evening before (October 31st) that they believed the ghosts of the dead roamed the earth. To protect themselves, the Celts lit bonfires and wore costumes made of animal hides to shield themselves from the spirits.
Halloween is hugely popular in America today, but this wasn’t always the case. Puritans didn’t approve of the holiday because of its origins. It wasn’t until Irish and Scottish immigrants started arriving in significant numbers that Halloween gained widespread acceptance.
‘Hallow’ is derived from the word holy.
During the 8th century, All Saints’ Day (or All Hallows Day) and All Souls Day (Day of the Dead) were established. The word Halloween is simply a contraction of the term ‘All Hallows’ Eve,’ which means the night before All Saints’ Day,
THE TRICK OR TREATERS
Different theories exist as to the exact origins of trick or treating. It could date back to All Souls’ Day in England, where the poor would get “soul cakes” in exchange for praying for the family’s dead relatives. Another idea dates back to the Celts. They believed that ghosts came back to earth on Halloween, and people would wear masks to evade them.
Candy wasn’t always the obvious treat. Until the 1950s, children often received nuts, fruit, coins, or small toys. But the steady rise in trick or treating created a demand – and candy companies answered the call by producing small, individually wrapped treats. Today, the favorite treats include Skittles, Reese’s, and M&M’s.
The commercialization of Halloween has earned its place as the second-highest-grossing holiday after Christmas. Cha-ching! Between candy, costumes, and decorations, Americans spend about $100 on Halloween. The holiday generates billions of dollars.
When Halloween rolls around, orange and black is the color scheme, which all ties back to the early Celtic years. Orange represents autumn’s harvest, while black symbolizes darkness and death.
When Halloween draws near, pumpkins take center stage. In addition to importing them from countries like Mexico, over 5 billion pounds of pumpkins are grown in the United States. According to the Dept of Agriculture, one state is the clear winner of pumpkin production. Illinois grows five times more pumpkins than any other.
THE JACK O LANTERNS
The tradition of carving pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns dates back centuries.
In an Irish folktale, Stingy Jack tries to fool the devil to escape Hell. However, the devil also pulled a trick, and Jack could not enter heaven. Instead, a lost Jack was doomed to walk the earth with a lantern carved from a turnip. However, since fall brought a surplus of pumpkins, the jack-o-lantern, as it became known, was eventually carved from pumpkins.
If you want to go all out, some places in the U.S. put Halloween on the map. Forget Romania – you can visit Transylvania right here in the States. Just head to the western part of North Carolina. Other spooky spots include Scarville City, Iowa; Tombstone, Arizona; and Slaughter Beach, Delaware.
THE WHITE HOUSE
In 1958, Eleanor Roosevelt was the first to decorate the White House for Halloween; she used pumpkins, flowers, and fake skulls. She, among others, is also said to have witnessed Abraham Lincoln’s ghost. This most famous residence is reportedly haunted, with many noticing eerie sights and sounds.
The horror movie “Halloween” was shot on a tight budget and schedule in 1978. Spending only three weeks and $300,000 on the film, it was necessary to cut corners where possible. The famous mask worn by Michael Myers cost just two dollars. This renowned face was a modified Star Trek mask of Captain James Kirk.
Halloween is fun for everyone, whether movie marathons, decked-out decorations, bonfires, or scary costumes. So, get in the spirit of things! It’s creeping up and is right around the corner.