While it doesn’t hold the kind of significance as holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, Halloween is a day which is anticipated by millions each year. Despite its popularity, Halloween remains surrounded by plenty of mystery. Where did some of our traditions come from? Why do we do the things we do at the end of October? The frequently asked questions below should shed some light on a few of the mysteries.
Where did trick or treating come from?
When you stop to think about it, this is a rather strange tradition. Where we normally would discourage kids from asking strangers for candy, it is encouraged on Halloween. So what gives? This is largely an American invention, which likely stems from marketing efforts more than anything else. Saying ‘trick or treat’ indicates that some ‘trick’ may be played on the homeowner if a treat is not provided. While some other parts of the world have picked up the trick or treat tradition, this is one which is mostly reserved for North America.
Why do we carve pumpkins?
Another seemingly random tradition is the carving of pumpkins for Halloween. All across the country, people purchase pumpkins for the purpose of carving them up into ‘Jack-o-lantern’ figures. Carving these kinds of lanterns is relatively popular around the world, while the name Jack-o-lantern is mostly another North American thing. The name Jack originates from an Irish folk tale. Jack trapped the devil, so the story goes, and wound up being banished from both heaven and hell. In the end, he was left wandering the earth with an eternal ember inside of a turnip, looking for somewhere to rest. An odd story indeed, and one worthy of the strange traditions of Halloween.
Why are costumes worn on Halloween?
There is very little in the way of records to determine exactly why it is tradition to wear costumes on Halloween. It seems that this tradition may have developed as recently as a century ago, as both adults and children began to dress up. Typical of stories in American history, the popularity of this tradition likely has roots in marketing. Businesses saw this as an opportunity, so the ‘tradition’ was promoted and it grew from there. Today, people enjoy dressing up in all kinds of crazy costumes, from those which invoke gory images to those which reference pop culture in some way.
Any way you look at it, Halloween is one of the most interesting holidays on the calendar. Whether you decide to get deeply involved in throwing a Halloween party – or you just buy a few treats to hand out to the neighborhood kids, it is interesting to gain an understanding of this annual event. Given the number of people who participate each year, it is a safe bet that Halloween will remain big business for many years to come.