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Halloween, one of the most popular festivals in the United States, is an occasion for both American adults and children to join in fascinating activities. It is so funny with games, masquerade, and glamorous outfits. Have you ever been to a Halloween party? Let us provide you a tour guide to this festival in the United States.

A Halloween night in the U.S.A
A Halloween night in the U.S

An ancient-originated history of Halloween

Halloween is American’s major traditional festival which falls on October 31 every year, before the Christian Feast of All Saints. People celebrate Halloween to mark the end of the harvest and the beginning of the cold winter, in memory of the deceased including Saints, Martyrs and dear departed ones.

The word “Halloween” is derived from “All Hallows’ Eve” – an ancient holiday from the 800s AD.

Over the centuries, All Hallows’ Eve gradually became Halloween and is the official name known to many people around the world.

Halloween originated from the Samhain festival of the Celts living more than 2000 years ago. Celtic people began their New Year on November 1st according to the contemporary calendars. On the eve before New Year, Celtic people celebrated this festival to honor the Celtic lord of the dead. It heralds the beginning of the cold winter, dark side and it is associated with the doom and death of mankind.

The Celts believed that the boundary between the world of man and dead people would become blurred and the souls could go back to the living world on the eve before New Year.

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Not until the 8th Century did Pope Gregory III choose November 1st All Saints’ Day. Not much later, All Saints’ Day incorporated some traditions of the ancient Samhain.  The evening festival’s name then changed into All Hallow’s Eve and Halloween as today.

Halloween has gained popularity in the United States since the second half of the 19th century. Millions of Irish immigrants to the United States spread Halloween’s ideas and traditions.

An illustration of old Halloween origins and history
An illustration of old Halloween

Best Traditional Halloween Activities

1. Trick or Treat

“Trick” means to joke or prank while “treat” is often goody or some money in some regions.

This game has its origin from a myth that when the ghosts go to any houses and beg, the house owners have to give them food.

Trick or treat usually takes place on the evening before All Saints’ Day (1 November). On this occasion, costumed children pour into the streets, moving from house to house, knocking at the doors, saying “Trick” or “Treat” in return for candies. Some people already place the candies on their porches so that the children can take them freely. It is surprising to know that American people buy around a quarter of the sweets for the year on Halloween.

Children flock to houses for trick and treat on Halloween
Children flock to houses for trick and treat

2. Cosplay: What Should I Cosplay for Halloween?

One of the most common activities during Halloween is cosplay. The more scary and horrible, the better. The most outrageous way to dress up on Halloween is to be in white and black tones with cracks and bloodstains on the face to make it as creepy as possible.

  • Witch

The most popular costume for girls and young people to wear on Halloween night is the witch costume, which represents fear and darkness. Especially on the night of the ghost festival, the power of the witch will be strongest. It is said that witches are in alliance with the devil. The image of a witch riding a broom across the moon is one of the traditional symbols of Halloween. Witch cosplayers often wear a long black coat with a pointed black hat and a broom. Adults usually dress in such clothes, but today many children wear them too.

Black is the main color of witch costume on Halloween day
Black is the main color of witch costume
  • Ghost

Both adults and children love to cosplay Ghosts on Halloween because they are easy to create. They often wear a huge piece of white cloth covering their body and head and revealing only two eyes. Some people may draw some creepy shapes on the costume to make it as scary as possible.

Two children are dressing in Ghost on Halloween
Two children are dressing in Ghost
  • Vampire

Vampire ranks second in the list of the most common Halloween costumes. It is a good idea for those who are looking for a spooky costume style. Cosplayers mainly get fangs, wear red lenses and lipstick which are the main features of vampires.

A girl’s vampire face on Halloween day
A girl’s vampire face
  • Influencer

In recent years, many American people have moved to cosplay political figures like President Donald Trump and Barack Obama. While others chose to disguise themselves like popular movie stars or popular cartoon and film characters such as Spiderman and Batman.

Celebrities in Bill and Hillary Clinton costume on Halloween
Celebrities in Bill and Hillary Clinton costume
  • Princess

A survey by the NRF revealed that over 2.7 million children wished to be a fairy tale princess on Halloween. Princess is one of the most favorite costumes of American children on Halloween. On this day, girls often put on colorful skirts or dresses with a crown on their heads. Their costumes usually take inspiration from characters like Elsa, Anna, Cinderella, and Snow White.

Girls cosplay princesses in cartoons on Halloween
Girls cosplay princesses in cartoons
  • Pumpkin carving

The traditions of pumpkin carving originated from a legend of Irish people about a man named Jack. He was so mean that neither God nor the Devil allowed him to enter. He then had to wander around the Earth forever. Irish people then started to carve scary faces called “Jack of the Lantern,” or Jack-o’-lantern from pumpkins to frighten away Jack’s soul.

When Irish people immigrated to the US, they used pumpkins for jack-o’-lantern carving as it is indigenous to here. Today, people usually put a candle inside a jack-o’-lantern and then place it onto the front veranda or the window of a house on Halloween’s eve. This way shows the sign of candies to the children and they can get them when knocking on the door and saying “Trick or Treat”.

A park covering with Jack-o’-lantern on Halloween
A park covering with Jack-o’-lantern

3. Bobbing for apples: Best Halloween Party Game Ever!

Legend has it that when the Romans invaded the Celts, many customs including the festival of worshipping the Goddess of harvest, Ponoma. The Goddess often hides in the fruit basket. Apple is a sacred fruit used to worship the Gods. Therefore many games associated with apples appear in the Samhain festival.

One of the most common versions of the game is that the players throw apples into a full bucket of water. They will compete against each other to take as many apples out of the water bucket through their mouths as possible. In the U.S and some other Western countries, they believe that it is a superstitious ritual for luck, not just a game. In some versions, they also peel the apples, and the longer you keep the peel, the luckier you are.

Teenagers are playing apple bobbing on Halloween
Teenagers are playing apple bobbing


You might also like Lollapalooza: The Amazing Festival That You Should Not Miss This Summer.

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