image: Our Jack-o-Lanterns (Brandon carved the cat; I carved the smiley face.)
Halloween as we know it today evolved over centuries from the ancient Celtic festival of the harvest, Samhain (pronounced sow-in). It is believed that on October 31, the day before the Celtic new year, the lines between living and deceased blurred and the ghosts of the deceased roamed the earth once again.
Irish immigrants popularized Halloween in the United States in the late 1800’s. They introduced costumes and trekked door to door asking neighbors for food or money, the pre-cursor to modern day trick or treating.
Today, Americans spend over $6.5 billion dollars on Halloween purchases, making it the second largest commercial holiday. Pumpkins, costumes and candy really add up!
To create your own Halloween celebration:
- CARVE a pumpkin into a Jack-o-Lantern. Americans love to venture out to pumpkin patches to choose the perfect pumpkin. People carve designs ranging from the simple, like Brandon’s and mine above, to the elaborate, like the 2008 Presidential candidates.
- DRESS as a spooky ghoul, your favorite television character or a reflection of a suppressed desire. There is a joke that Halloween is the one day of the year women can dress as sexy as they want without being judged by society.
- STOCK candy for the Trick or Treaters. If there are kids in your neighborhood, be prepared with sweets. My favorites are Almond Joy and Snickers. I also really like Rolos. People assume different approaches to their candy buying decisions; they either buy their favorites to indulge, or buy their least favorites so they don’t.
- WATCH scary movies to get in the spirit. Netflix has an entire on-demand Horror section. Or, if you’re up for adventure, attend a Halloween Parade like The Village Halloween Parade in New York City, the largest participatory parade in the US.
- LISTEN to spooky Halloween music streamed live from the internet. The Monster Mash is one of the most popular Halloween tunes ever.
- DRINK Vampire Wine. It’s yummy and inexpensive, perfect for a student budget.
For lots more on Halloween, click here.