Why is Halloween so popular in the US

Halloween in the USA - "Trick or Treat"

The evening before All Saints' Day, October 31, is celebrated as a costume party in the USA. The houses are eerily decorated, the jack-o-lanterns are set up and the children roam the streets, singing and asking for sweets. It's Halloween in the USA. But where does Halloween come from and why is it so popular with Americans? The origin of the custom is believed to be in Great Britain and Ireland.

Table of Contents
Halloween and the pumpkins - an inseparable connection | From traditional custom to consumer festival | Halloween in the US today | Halloween in Europe

For over 1,000 years, they say around the year 800, All Saints' Day has been celebrated on November 1st in many countries around the world. The eve of All Saints' Day is called "All Hakkiw" in English-speaking countries, from which the name Halloween is derived.

But October 31 was also of special importance for the Celts, as it represented the last day of the year and at the same time the festival in honor of the Celtic god of the dead Samhain, on which, according to Celtic belief, it was possible to go down on earth to meet the deceased. In order to make these spirits forgiving, the people of that time baked bread, which they placed on the outskirts. On the way there they put on dark costumes so that the evil spirits would think they were their own and would not harm them.

The Celts are the ancestors of the Irish, Scots and English and even when the Christian faith found its way into Great Britain and Ireland and the members of the Anglican Church celebrated Reformation Day on this day, the children in the areas of the British Isles that remained Catholic continued the custom and went from house to house disguised as ghosts.

And when the great wave of emigration to the USA finally began in the middle of the 19th century, the Catholic Irish in particular took Halloween with them to the United States.

Halloween and the pumpkins - an inseparable connection

In addition to black as the color of darkness, orange, the color of pumpkins, is the second major Halloween color. And that although it wasn't even pumpkins that were hollowed out and given terrible grimaces, but turnips.

A custom that goes back to the legend of the villain Jack Oldfield. This managed to catch the devil by a trick and he only released him again when he promised him not to get in Jack's way anymore. When Jack died, however, he was not allowed to go to heaven because of his many evil deeds and, since he had betrayed the devil, not to go to hell either, so that his lost soul was cursed to walk through the underworld until Judgment Day.

But legend has it that the devil had mercy on Jack and handed him a turnip with a glowing coal as a lantern in it, so that he did not have to wander in complete darkness. And so it came about that the beet lanterns that are common on Halloween are known in English-speaking countries as "Jack O’Lantern". In the USA, the beets have been replaced by the pumpkin that is common there and so today you can find a hollowed-out pumpkin in the window of every house, in which the children can get something on Halloween.

From traditional custom to consumer festival

The commercialization of Halloween began at the beginning of the 20th century when the first postcards and decorative items were produced for the festival. Halloween costumes followed in the 30s and the well-known "Trick or Treat" finally in the 50s. And over time it got bigger and bigger. Today, after Christmas, Halloween is the most profitable holiday for businesses. Americans spend $ 2.4 billion annually on Halloween, mainly on costumes, decorations and confectionery.

Halloween in the US today

In the USA, Halloween is usually spent with family and friends or with work colleagues. The houses are often lavishly decorated. Classics are ghosts, sheets, skeletons, witches, gravestones, black cats and the like. Creepy culinary Halloween specialties are also often made.

Around two thirds of adults attend costume parties, and many large shopping centers offer games and attractions for children. The young people usually celebrate at school and use costumes that are as unusual as possible.

The children are out and about in their costumes in the late afternoon and early evening, wandering the neighborhood. When the door opens, they shout “Trick or Treat”, which means that if the children don't get any sweets, they have to fear a prank. The pranks are similar to those that are common in German-speaking countries, for example on Walpurgis Night.

Many American cities also offer special events and guided tours in haunted houses and haunted places. A very special place here is Salem, Massachusetts. During official events, donations for charitable purposes, e.g. B. UNICEF.

Halloween is not a public holiday in the United States. This means that authorities and shops are open normally and public transport is running as usual.

Halloween in Europe

In the 90s of the 20th century, Halloween became more and more popular in mainland Europe as well. However, the distribution differs from region to region. Halloween, for example, spread relatively quickly in traditional pumpkin growing areas.