What is the Origin of Halloween? [Infographic]

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Halloween is a day surrounded in kids dressing up and candy all around. Why is it that October 31st is the day that we send our kids out to knock door to door? What is the symbolism and significance of dressing up and the darkness that covers this celebration? Halloween is a day surrounded by celebration and superstition. Also referred to as All Hallows Eve, this evening comes right before All Saints’ Day on November 1st. Here are some interesting facts about the origins of Halloween.

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Where it All Began

2,000 years ago in what is today’s Ireland, United Kingdom and Northern France, the Celts celebrated their new year on November 1st. The night before, on October 31st, Samhain occured. This Gaelic festival marked the end of harvest season and the beginning of winter, the darker half of the year. During this time, it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to Earth. Fast forward to the 21st century, Halloween is now a secular community based event. Children participate in family friendly activities, festivals, and trick or treating dressing up as their favorite ghost or ghoul. This day is marked now by an array of haunted houses, carved pumpkins, lit bonfires, and horror movie marathons.

Many of the symbols used today represented those of traditions past. Big bonfires were created and considered sacred as they gathered the crops and animals to burn as sacrifices to Celtic deities. During this time, costumes were worn ranging from animal heads to skins. As Roman conquered the majority of Celtic territories in the first century A.D. many of the Samhain traditions were combined with Roman traditions. Many of these carry on today such as the tradition of bobbing for apples. This incorporation of fruit gives honor to the Roman Goddess Pomona.

By the early times of Protestant belief and the New England colonies, many of these customs were meshed together to create public events, harvest, and parties surrounding by stories of the dead, telling fortunes, and singing. By the middle of the 19th century with a popularization of immigrants coming to America, many new traditions were formed such as dressing up and going house to house asking for food or money which has transformed to today’s practice of trick or treating. This modern form was rooted back to All Souls’ Day parades that would take place in England. Over time, adults would be found committing acts of vandalism and the like, eventually leaving the practice or trick or treating to just the kids.

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How Big is Halloween?

An estimated 158 million people participate in Halloween with more than $2 billion spend on candy. Halloween is worth a total of $69 billion in consumer spending. More than 36 million children will go trick or treating between the ages of 5 and 13. Be sure to follow these important Halloween Safety Tips for Trick or Treaters.

More than half of your neighborhood homes will decorate their yard. Less than a quarter of people not planning to celebrate Halloween at all. No matter the age or grandness this day may bring to you, it is certainly a celebration that will not disappear any time soon.

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