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Halloween In America

I went last night to observe Halloween first hand in Ohio, and it certainly was an experience like none other.

In today’s modern word Halloween seems to be celebrated by everyone, costumes parties are held all over and even in some countries kids go trick or treating. But it got me thinking why is Halloween so big in America, in fact this event kick starts the holiday season (thanksgiving and Christmas are still to come).

The origins of Halloween are now unknown with many people divided over the reasons. Some people say that Halloween is celebrated on the eve of the feast of the All Saints (a celebration of all the saints, both known and unknown, in the Christian faith). Others have suggested that Halloween is celebrated to mark harvest festivals and festivals of the dead. This is a commonly accepted origin due to the need and want of people to scare their neighbors.

Interestingly, when reading up on the event I found that the original settlers in North America opposed Halloween. It was only accepted and embraced by North Americans when there was a large influx of Scottish and Irish settlers towards the end of the 19th century. Even then it took almost another 50 years before it was assimilated in to mainstream culture.

Today, Halloween is celebrated all over America by every American. Just like the movies show I was treated to streets full of kids dressed in costumes going from house to house asking for candy. The traditional scary Halloween costumes seem to have been discarded as kids chose to dress up as their favorite superheroes. In fact I only saw a handful of kids who were dressed up as ghosts, vampires, demons etc.

The assortment of costumes certainly did not confine itself only to the children, as the adults also partook in the celebrations.

House themselves retained the scary look with decorations depicting dead bodies, ghosts at the windows and grave stones on the front lawns. In fact a couple of people told me that the local neighborhoods get together every year and hold a competition to judge the scariest house.

At the end of the night kids returned home with their bags stuffed with chocolates, which parents told me would be consumed over several days (hard to see that happening), teenagers went for parties and the parents prepared themselves for the clean up tomorrow.

As much as the candy and costumes are part of Halloween so to are the pranks.

Some houses were clearly victims of such pranks, I asked some kids why they were pulling a prank on one house. They responded “Mr…. lives there and whenever our football goes over in to his yard he never returns it, this is the one time we can have our revenge.”

Today Halloween is over, the kids have hung up their costumes for another year and the parents are putting away the decorations. But there is still a sense that the holiday season has only begun here in the United States.

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