America’s favorite holiday has kooky traditions–and spooky beginnings. Experts estimate that Americans will spend about $8 billion on Halloween this year ( 2012). This makes Halloween the second-highest spending holiday of the year, right behind Christmas.
Every year on Halloween, millions of children prepare to ring their neighbors’ doorbells and scream, “Trick or Treat!” Blow Pops, bite-size Hershey bars, and plastic orange pumpkins fly off supermarket shelves. And there’s always a stampede to get the last tube of fake blood at the local drugstore. Halloween is known for its fun and games. But when the holiday began, it was a much more serious–and truly spooky–occasion.
Two thousand years ago in the area that is now Ireland, Wales, and Scotland, natives called Celts observed the end of the farming season and the beginning of a new year on November 1. The night before, they also celebrated Samhain (pronounced sow-in) or “Hallow E’en.” During this eerie time, people believed the boundary between the deceased and the living dissolved. And the ghosts of the dead haunted the Earth.
So the Celts organized huge festivals to protect themselves. They built roaring bonfires and sacrificed animals to their gods. They put on masks and dressed up in elaborate costumes made from animal hides to ward away evil. And they cooked gigantic feasts to bring about a prosperous new year.
Over the next few centuries, other cultures developed their own Halloween traditions, many of which continue to this day. In England, poor citizens went door-to-door begging for “soul cakes”–food they used to appease lost spirits. In Mexico and Latin America, people decorated their homes, lit candles, and built altars to their dead relatives. In Spain, they tidied grave sites and left candy on tombstones.
As European immigrants came to America in the 1700s, they brought their Halloween customs with them. They also formed new ones to commemorate their surroundings. Colonial festivities featured ghost stories and fortunetelling. Children joined their parents in carving jack-o’-lanterns and bobbing for apples.
Today, Halloween is just as popular as ever. Most years, over 70 percent of Americans celebrate the holiday and over one billion pounds of pumpkins are grown nationwide. In a typical year Americans spend nearly two billion dollars on Halloween candy alone. While many people disagree on whether ghosts and witches actually exist, they do see eye to eye on one thing: It’s certainly fun to dress up as one!
Experts estimate that Americans will spend about $8 billion on Halloween this year. This makes Halloween the second-highest spending holiday of the year, right behind Christmas. Of that $8 billion, $3 billion will be spent on costumes alone. This figure includes clothes and makeup for people making costumes at home. It also includes pre-bought costumes that involve no extra work.
Consumers will spend almost as much money on candy and other treats. People will also spend more than $2 billion this year (2012) just on Halloween decorations. Finally, there are Halloween-themed greeting cards. Although these cards only make up approximately 6 percent of the total spending, that still works out to $480 million.
Some observers say the reason Halloween has become such an expensive holiday is due to adults and college students throwing parties. Many communities and neighborhoods now host these parties, which can attract hundreds, or even thousands, of people.
- $2.88 billion…COSTUMES
- $2.40 billion…CANDY
- $2.15 billion…DECORATIONS
- $480 million…GREETING CARDS
This article was based on several articles from Sirs Discoverer For more great information like this visit SIRS Discoverer. A great online resource for learning and discovery and free with your James V. Brown Library card.