Halloween – Halloween has become one of the favorite holidays celebrated in the United States. Every October 31, children across America go trick or treating as their favorite super hero, princess, or cartoon character, or get decked out in their most frightening monster costumes to spook their family and friends.
Neighborhoods come together as people open up their homes to greet the masked kid visitors to their door, and drop tasty morsels of candy into their pumpkin shaped baskets and trick-or-treat bags. Those daring homeowners who have gone out, gone to bed, or prefer not to open their doors to the visiting trick-or-treaters leave buckets of candy on their door steps with friendly signs asking the kids to take just one.
At the conclusion of the door-to-door candy quest, tired children empty their goody bags and assess their loot — M&Ms, Snickers, Mounds and Hershey Bar abound. For the more health conscious types, there are apples — candied, caramel or right off the tree. For the kids collecting for Unicef, there are contributions to be donated to children less fortunate.
For the parents, there is the thrill of sharing Halloween with their children, an experience which seems virtually unchanged from when the parents went trick-or-treating with their children’s grandparents years before. And then there is the parents’ calorie consumption — both from consuming the surplus candy purchased for the trick-or-treaters who never arrived and from raiding their own kids’ candy bags.
In many ways, Halloween is a beloved family tradition unchanged from generation to generation.
One part of Halloween that has changed over the years is the degree to which many people now celebrate the holiday by decorating their homes in scary Halloween decorations, dioramas and displays designed to frighten trick-or-treaters and Halloween party guests. There are the classic Universal monsters like Frankenstein, Dracula, the Wolfman, the Mummy and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, plus other Hollywood favorites like the Phantom of the Opera, all on display to scare Halloween visitors. Then there are the more recent movie villains — such as Halloween‘s Michael Myers, Jason from Friday the 13, Freddy Kreuger from Nightmare on Elm Street, plus Hellraiser and other fiends and scare-mongers designed to shock and terrify. Creepy ghosts, witches, vampires, skeletons and headless horsemen abound, all arranged in scary, cob web-filled graveyards, eerie dungeons, and scenes from the crypt. Some of the Halloween displays are particularly grisly, causing shivers, jitters and shudders in even the most strong of heart.
Some Halloween celebrators provide October tours of their scary haunted houses, occasionally charging visitors an admission fee to walk though each house of horrors.
Over the years, outdoor Christmas decorations have gotten more extravagant, with entire neighborhoods lit up in splendid light-shows and holiday extravagance. Halloween seems to be providing the next wave of holiday decorating, with October 31 a time to celebrate the fall season with glowing jack-‘o-lanterns, doorway vampires, and fearsome lawn displays.
The name “Halloween” derives from All Hallows’ Eve, when the Church marks the eve of All Saints Day, also known as All Hallows’ Day. The holiday itself seems to have pagan roots, dating back to the 8th century B.C. when the druids celebrated Hallowed Eve when they believed the souls of the dead returned to mingle with the living. The druids would celebrate the night by lighting bonfires, sacrificing animals, and dressing in disguises to hide themselves from the returning spirits.
Halloween has certainly come a long way since its ancient roots. The day reserved for trick-or-treat, jack-o-lanterns, masks and costumes, and spooky decorations has taken its place as a classic American holiday.