Halloween is one of America’s most beloved holidays, and in recent years it continues to grow in popularity. In fact, spending on Halloween costumes and party supplies rose by nine percent in 2011—a rough economic year that even saw a decline in Christmas spending. Let’s take a look at some of the history behind this holiday and today’s Halloween trends:
Ghoulish History – This spooky holiday has long been associated with community and celebrations, but it’s gone through quite a few changes over the years. About 2,000 years ago, Halloween was celebrated by the Celts during early November, to recognize the season of death when cold winds began to kill the crops and community members were more likely to fall ill. They called this ancient festival Samhain , and it’s the holiday upon which Halloween is based. Bonfires were lit to honor the gods, and costumes were worn to hide from the wandering spirits of the dead. In these days, the treats provided at doorsteps were for ghosts, not kids.
The Origins of Jack-o-Lanterns – Halloween’s beloved Jack-o-lantern pumpkin derived from an old Irish tale involving Jack, a man so evil, the devil himself refused to admit him into hell. Barred from both heaven and hell, Jack was left to wander the earth at night holding a piece of coal inside of a turnip for light. He was referred to as “Jack of the lantern.” Around Halloween, families would put lights and offerings by their front doors to ward off evil spirits like Jack. Many folks tried carving their own “Jack of the lanterns.” These were originally faces carved into Irish turnips and potatoes, but the Irish began using North American-grown pumpkins when the tradition travelled with them to the United States.
Today’s Candy-Fueled Celebrations – Traditions have changed over time, and while Halloween night is still spooky, it’s much more fun! We also eat much more candy than the spooky revelers of centuries past could ever have imagined! Americans spent more than 2 billion dollars on Halloween candy in 2011. To give you an idea of the sheer volume of Halloween candy consumed, if you laid the more than 9 billion pieces of candy corn made this year end to end, the chain would circle the moon 21 times!
Festive Costumes and Party Decor – Today’s Halloween costumes are funny and creative, and our Halloween parties feature silly games and festive party decorations instead of somber rituals. A spooky adult Halloween party might feature a ghoulish black, white, and red vampire theme. For a more family-friendly party, hosts can offer activities like bobbing for apples and use festive, harvest-themed table decorations and party linens.
This year, impress your friends with fun facts about candy corn and jack-o-lanterns and share some great ideas for Halloween party supplies and costumes! We’ve compiled a list of tweetable tidbits to get you in the spirit for America’s most haunted holiday. Click “Tweet this” to share on twitter, or feel free to post your favorite factoids on Facebook and Google+.
1. The most popular costumes in 2011 were inspired by The Walking Dead and Gaga. Why not try Zombie Gaga in 2012? Via @mashable #AmParty (Tweet This)
2. Austin, TX has its fair share of ghosts. Have you been to any of its most haunted locales? http://bit.ly/lg62pn #AmParty (Tweet This)
3. Think Halloween is just for kids? Over the last decade, more adults are finding ways to celebrate. http://cnnmon.ie/q8xuxv #AmParty (Tweet This)
4. Bobbing for apples has been a part of Halloween since the Romans added their traditions to Celtic holidays. Via @History #AmParty (Tweet This)
5. In Bavaria, one day of Halloween is not enough. Many Southern Germans celebrate a whole All Souls week! http://bit.ly/ps5iyj #AmParty (Tweet This)
6. Want to participate in a freaky 5k fundraiser before heading to your party? Join the TSD Spooky Skedaddle! http://bit.ly/q5ikej #AmParty (Tweet This)
7. Laid end to end, the pieces of candy corn made this year alone could circle the moon nearly 21 times. Via @CandyUSA #AmParty (Tweet This)
8. Charlie Sheen was the winning costume last Halloween. Who was the most costume-worthy celebrity of 2012? Via @THR #AmParty (Tweet This)
9. Early jack-o-lanterns were carved from turnips and potatoes. Ever tried using anything but a pumpkin? http://bit.ly/rymscw #AmParty (Tweet This)
10. Planning a Halloween party? @BHG has some great ideas for spooky centerpieces using typewriters and candles http://bit.ly/umjtrm #AmParty (Tweet This)
11. A Halloween party for adults needs cocktails like the Dark and Stormy Death Punch. More spooky recipes here: http://bit.ly/pbp9qu #AmParty (Tweet This)
12. Print out some pumpkin carving patterns from @hgtv if you want to have the spookiest jack-o-lanterns around. http://bit.ly/dpyq64 #AmParty (Tweet This)
13. If you want to liven up your Halloween party, check out the Halloween playlist from @nerdist http://bit.ly/p8rty2 #AmParty (Tweet This)
14. Want a more alternative Halloween playlist with songs from @TheBlackKeys and Pixies? http://bit.ly/ubghgh #AmParty (Tweet This)
15. Doomed German immigrants once tried to colonize Texas. Got the guts to hunt down their ghosts on Halloween? http://bit.ly/rs5y4i #AmParty (Tweet This)
16. Early Halloween costumes were worn to blend in with spirits wandering about on H-ween night. Via @History #AmParty (Tweet This)
17. Are you and your special someone looking for a cheesy couple costume this Halloween? Check out these ideas: http://bit.ly/sj27ev #AmParty (Tweet This)
18. Looking for some creepy movies to get you in the Halloween spirit? @IMDb has a list of all the greats: http://imdb.to/pt2meq #AmParty (Tweet This)
19. The fear of Halloween is called Samhainophobia (read: sow-in-o-phobia). Get more weird Halloween facts here: http://bit.ly/q3goim #AmParty (Tweet This)
20. If you are looking for some fun games for a kids Halloween party, @Kaboosedotcom has what you need: http://bit.ly/1tyhsz #AmParty (Tweet This)
21. Last year, Americans spent around $2.3 billion on Halloween candy. How much will you shell out this year? http://bit.ly/us92jk #AmParty (Tweet This)
22. It is all in the eyes! Spooky contact lenses will make your Halloween costume the coolest at the party. http://bit.ly/rsmyyr #AmParty (Tweet This)
23. Hey guys! Need a cool Halloween costume? @uncrate has compiled a few ideas here: http://bit.ly/vzsc4z #AmParty (Tweet This)
24. Hosting your first grownup Halloween party? Get some tips from @TLC here: http://bit.ly/9lipt8 #AmParty (Tweet This)
25. Did you know that the orange and black of Halloween represent the fall harvest and the darkness of death? http://n.pr/quaaxl #AmParty (Tweet This)
26. So you have your own party on the weekend, but what to do on Halloween night? Maybe the Austin Monster Ball? http://bit.ly/unfyud #AmParty (Tweet This)