Between autumn and winter, plenty and paucity, life and death, Halloween is full of celebration and superstition. Thought to originate from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear
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fancy costumes to scare off roaming ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as All Saints Day, a time to honor all saints and martyrs. The holiday of All Saints Day embraces some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before All Saints Day was known as All Hallows Eve and later became known as Halloween. Halloween evolved into a community event with child-friendly activities such as trick-or-treating. As the days grow shorter and the nights get longer and colder, people usher in winter with gatherings, costumes, parties and sweet treats.

Halloween arrives in America

Halloween celebrations were limited in New England due to rigid Protestant beliefs. Halloween was more common in Maryland and southern colonies. As the beliefs and customs of European groups and the American Indians meshed, an American version of Halloween emerged.  Early celebrations included public events to celebrate the harvest. People shared stories of the dead, told fortunes, danced and sung. These Halloween celebrations also featured telling of ghost stories and mischief-making. By the mid-nineteenth century autumn festivities were common but Halloween was not celebrated everywhere in America.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, new immigrants in America, especially the Irish, helped popularize Halloween nationally. Borrowing from Irish and English traditions, Americans dressed in costumes and started the trick-or-treat tradition.

The late 1800s saw a move to mold Halloween into a community holiday. At the turn of the century, Halloween parties became the most common way to celebrate. Parties focused on games, food and festive costumes. Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones by the beginning of the twentieth century.

By the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween was a secular, community-centered holiday.However vandalism began to plague Halloween in many communities during this time. By the 1950s, vandalism was being more limited and Halloween evolved into a holiday targeting the young. Between 1920 and 1950, the centuries-old practice of trick or treating was revived. The idea was to prevent tricks being played by providing potential culprits with sweets and other treats. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween and it is America’s second largest commercial holiday.

Halloween in the UK

Following on fromt eh success of halloween in America, Halloween is now a more prominent festivity in the UK. This is denoted bu the abundance of Halloween decoarations and halloween costumes now avaibal enad the more pronounced build up t Halloween as copmpared wit a few years ago.

Commercially Halloween is also a success. Asscoaited with scary costumes, Party decoarnios and treats for kids, there are many ways to commemorate the Halloween festival.

More about the history of Halloween

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Halloween 13: About Halloween