Even though Halloween is now an internationally recognized celebration, it wasn’t always like that. In fact, the history of the much-beloved holiday is incredibly varied. First of all, the pagan influences of Halloween are obvious. Even though the exact details have not yet been confirmed, Celtic-speaking countries like the Irish were among the first people to celebrate Halloween, or at least a version of it anyway. Like many other holidays, the modern version was also influenced by Christianity as the religion had taken over most of the known world by the 17th and 18th centuries.
Today, Halloween is celebrated in regions across the wide world like North America, various European countries, China, Japan, Australia, and a lot more. Each region has its very own quirks which are usually mixes of each country’s traditions along with staples of Halloween like eating candy and dressing up. In the US alone, Halloween sales rose to $6.9 billion in 2015 alone and the figures will probably grow this year as well.
Pretty much everything we do on Halloween nowadays had some kind of meaning in older times. For instance, trick-or-treating originated from another tradition called souling which is still active in some regions of the world. Souling refers to soul cakes which were traditionally made for Halloween and given out to children who also went out door to door. Of course, that tradition was rooted in religion as it was supposed to commemorate the dead and not to result in an uncontrollable sugar rush like the modern version of Halloween.
The reasons why Halloween is so incredibly successful should be obvious to anyone who has ever spent a night out in celebration of the fun holiday. Children and adults alike love dressing up because it gives them an opportunity to forget about everything and relax while partaking in the festivities. Youngsters, of course, have the added incentive of accumulating and subsequently eating as much candy as humanly possible.
Another factor that has contributed to the celebration’s popularity is the sheer number of activities associated with it. First of all, carving a pumpkin is very amusing whether you are doing it with your family or on your own. Jack-o’-lanterns can now be considered as traditional Halloween decorations, adoring people’s front yards, porches, trees, doorsteps, and more. In the age of the internet, sharing your amazing carvings is easier than ever. Even if you don’t know how to carve a pumpkin, online guides are there to help you every step of the way.
While the more traditional games played on Halloween have faded way in some regions, they still exist in other regions. For example, bobbing for apples might be an incredibly simple game but it’s also a vastly entertaining one for children. In modern times, the most common Halloween tradition relates to scary, spooky, or generally otherworldly stories. Though these are often expressed at local parties, it has also become a tradition for popular TV shows to include special episodes on Halloween. These episodes are also great indications of a region’s specific customs so if you would like to see what Halloween looks like in another country, all you have to do is watch an episode of a popular series over there.
Dressing up has also been a part of Halloween since the celebration’s inception but it wasn’t always as varied as it is now. Traditional Halloween costumes are related to the supernatural. Since it was thought that demons and monsters roamed the Earth on Halloween, people dressed up as witches, ghosts, and other creatures in order to blend in. And though some people still keep this tradition, everyone can dress up as whatever they want on Halloween because the holiday is more about having fun than appeasing the creatures of the night.
Aside from candy, there are plenty of other Halloween foods that people have come to enjoy. Some of these are traditional, like the Irish barmbrack, while others are the products of modern times, like almost every single pumpkin-flavored drink and food you’ll see in supermarkets and big franchises. Still, food is an important part of any celebration and All Hallows’ Eve is a great time for experimentation. While you may think that pumpkin-flavored coffee is a bit of a stretch, these specialized foods are often surprisingly tasty.
Finally, despite the macabre associations of Halloween, the holiday is actually very safe. Though there are various incidents reported by the mass media, such as razors found in children’s apples and candy, these reports are largely exaggerated. Of course, certain precautions have to be taken to ensure the safety of children, such as keeping lit jack-o’-lanterns out of accessible areas. With some caution, Halloween can be a very enjoyable holiday for people of all ages as it’s the one day of the year where no one will ask you why you are wearing your Batman suit yet again.