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Halloween, then and now

Americans are expected to spend about $8 billion on Halloween this year. $3.5 billion will be for costumes, $2 billion for candy, and the rest will be spent on decorations, parties and haunted houses. How did Halloween begin?

 

Halloween has roots in the ancient Irish festival called Samhain which celebrated the end of the crop harvest. Irish Gaelic culture believed that on October 31st of every year, the boundaries between the dead and the living were blurred, and dead ancestors could come back to life and hurt the living and their crops. During the festival people wore masks and costumes to scare off the dead souls. They lit bonfires to attract bats, which were good for their crops because the bats ate the insects.

 

When the Irish began to immigrate to the United States in the 19th century, they brought many traditions with them, including the fall harvest festival. Through the years the celebration evolved into what we now know as Halloween. Trick-or-treating by children in disguise became commonplace during the late 1940s and early 1950s – just as television began portraying children in its family programs getting costumed and begging for candy. Trick-or-treating hit its peak in the 60s and 70s and has waned some since. These days, many communities host parties, festivals or “trunk-or-treat” events that give candy to costumed kids ahead of the holiday.

 

What’s next for Halloween? Well, the U.S. Supreme Court will be deciding what costumes people may or may not wear in future years. Recently, the Court heard argument regarding which elements of a costume might be considered copyrighted design. Happy Halloween!





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