Halloween is now the second most popular holiday in the US. Only Christmas is more popular than Halloween. But it wasn’t always that way. Now people spend over 6 billion dollars every year on Halloween decorations, candy, costumes, and other Halloween items. But Halloween wasn’t even celebrated widely in the US until the late 1920s. And until the Scottish and Irish immigrants brought the idea of Halloween with them to the US it wasn’t celebrated at all. These days there are contest for the most elaborate and most creative Halloween light shows and people spend a lot of time and money to create terrifying scenes in their yards and homes.
But all of that is relatively new in the American culture. Here are some more interesting facts about the celebration of Halloween in the US:
Trick or Treating became a part of the culture in the 1950s – Before the 1950s most people lived in cities where Halloween celebrations varied by neighborhood. After WWII people flocked to the suburbs where they had the chance to own a home and raise their children in green neighborhoods. It was during the 1950s that Trick or Treating became the institution that it is today. During the celebration of domesticity in the 1950s costumes became more elaborate and parents started walking their kids around to the neighbor’s homes every Halloween to beg for treats. Now more than 90% of all kids in the US Trick or Treat each year.
Jack O’ Lanterns are American – In Ireland and later in Scotland where Halloween was celebrated the people would carve turnips and gourds into scary faces and light them with candles on Halloween. In the US turnips were not readily available. Pumpkins were plentiful however, so the tradition of carving pumpkins became a part of the celebration of Halloween in the US. Now hundreds of thousands of pumpkins are grown just for Halloween Jack O’Lanterns each year. Most of the pumpkins used for Jack O’Lanterns are grown in the Midwest and then shipped all over the country.
Costumes were sold in the 1930s – Commercially made costumes based on popular movie characters, literary characters, and traditional figures like princesses, witches, and cowboys were sold as early as the last 1920s in the US. While the costumes of today are a lot more elaborate there have been costumes sold for Halloween for nearly 100 years. Even during the 1950s, which was the period when homemade costumes were the most popular, commercial costumes sold well. Today people spend over a billion dollars on costumes every year. Many people start shopping for Halloween costumes and accessories in August. The most popular are sexy costumes, which often sell out. Plus size costumes also sell out quickly.
Costumes are no longer just for Halloween – Some Halloween fans known as Cosplayers make and wear elaborate costumes based on movie and video game characters all year long. They compete in costume contests at conventions for big cash prizes and bragging rights.