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Halloween in the United States

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Avatar for ladyanneclare
Written by   33
8 months ago

As I reflect on all the Halloweens I had as a child and how kids celebrate today in the U.S., it's strikingly different. Due to trial and error, I suppose, parents started to tighten up the whole culture and the Halloween I grew up with looks different. These days I hear from parents that they are celebrating by taking their children to school or community organized parties. No wandering around the neighborhood house to house, being cold in the pitch black darkness of a fall night with a running nose. Ending your night by turning over your pillow case (my go to bag as a child) sorting through all the good, okay and bad candies and bringing the bad ones to school to give out. It was really all about the candy for me as a kid. As I got older, it was about going to the cool parties and still is about a possible cool party if an invitation comes. I haven't "officially celebrated" in a while but I am never one to turn down an opportunity to celebrate. The one tradition I pretty much have started to practice annually is to watch at least one scary movie and eat a small bit of candy.

Let's look into the history behind Halloween. The jack o' lanterns, costumes and trick or treating - where did they all come from?

Origins of Halloween

From reading this article, I learned that the early origins of this costume wearing day was actually a sacred day to the Celtics, who celebrated Samhain on November 1st. It was believed that this was the first day in to the long, dark and cold season and a time when it would be easy for the dead to mix with the living. Costumes were worn to ward off ghosts and bonfires were sky high with crop and animal offerings to deities.

As years went on, and ownership of countries and lands changed hands, the holiday morphed into an amalgam of multiple celebrations from Catholicism, Romans and finally in the early America traditions. As settlers in the U.S. came from various European origins, settling into their new land with American Indians, created a new type of American Halloween. This new Halloween consisted of telling ghost stories, celebrating the harvest and revolved more around community building activities.

As modern age came about, the newspapers and community leaders used their influence to cut the ties with anything that may come off as frightening or spooky. Therefore giving America the Halloween it has today, a fun, light-hearted time to enjoy with the family and community.

Trick or Treat

Yes there is an ancient tie to that sugary tradition of trick or treating. Back when the Celtics were celebrating the festival, they would bring offerings of food and drink to appease the ghosts. Thus they would dress up in disguises to appear as ghosts in order to receive the offerings that were left for the ghosts.

In the later years, this tradition took a turn to be known as "guising" for short. Children and adults alike would be in costume and play tricks or perform in some way to then be rewarded with food or money.

So it appears that Americans took from a European tradition and went costumed house to house, asking for food or money in their version of it.

Jack O'Lanterns

Then there's that pumpkin carving tradition every fall and a contest for the best one. This tradition also stems from the Celtic festival Samhain. When in the midst of warding off the possible ghosts, faces would be carved into root vegetables in representation of a possible slain enemy's head. Another representation of this tradition is for warding off the possible spirits that have visited for the night, needing then the most scariest possible face ever on the vegetable of choice.

Why they are lit is due to the high price of metal. It was more cost effective to hollow out a pumpkin or turnip, have a few holes and slashes for a scary face and place candles in it for a completely organic and natural lantern.

Last Thoughts

I didn't go into the depth and history that is owed to this tradition and if you would like to know more, please click the articles I linked to above. They are a fascinating read and may serve as a new inspiration to celebrate your All Hallow's Eve.

My Halloween experience has been purely American. I have never experienced it in another country or culture and seem to recall hearing that some other countries don't really acknowledge it or acknowledge the day in a totally different way and tradition. What is really strikingly similar to me is that the holidays that revolve around this date are due to the changing of seasons, harvest and honoring/acknowledging the dead.

How have you celebrated in your culture? Any interesting or happy memories you have from your childhood. It is so interesting to me that globally we celebrate this similar day but do so in an entirely different way.

Happy Halloween! Trick or treat! (yes I am trick or treating on read.cash :) )

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Written by   33
8 months ago
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Comments

Here on Philippines we adapted the traditions that Americans have during Halloween. Wearing costumes and trick or treat is a tradition in my country. However some houses are letting their lights off so that the kids will think that there's no people inside. I have this experience before that we got lots of candies and coins everytime we conducting trick or treat.

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8 months ago

Wow, yes I've heard it's celebrated similarly in places. Haha, yeah I hear my friends talking about turning the porch light off so no one comes by.

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8 months ago

In our religion, we are not believing in All Soul's Day or Halloween. But, we are suposedly enjoying the spooky vibes of November. For us, the last week of October and the first week of November is the most epic day for us since you can precisely feel the ambience of horror special episodes of the Philippine shows

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8 months ago

That's super interesting, thanks for sharing.

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8 months ago