As trick-or-treaters are mobilizing to harvest their bags of candy, we want to take a moment to say that Halloween isn’t just child’s play. Statistics show that adults are getting their spook on as much as ever. So here’s what you need to know for the weekend’s festivities:
Once upon a time…
The origins of Halloween go back more than 2,000 years, to the Celtic festival of Samhain. Celts, who inhabited the area now occupied by Ireland, the United Kingdom and Northern France, celebrated this festival to mark the end of the harvest season. They believed that October 31 represented the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead. It was a day when the dead could return to Earth. To protect themselves, Celts built huge bonfires, burned crops and wore costumes to ward off ghosts. Over the years as Christianity spread in the 600s, Pope Boniface IV named November 1 All Saints’ Day to honor saints and martyrs. Samhain, the Catholic All-Hallowmas, All Saints’ Day and the Roman festival of Feralia, among other influences, are all believed to have resulted in today’s Halloween, celebrated in the United States, Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
Grading on a carve
The best way to inaugurate the holiday, as we all know, is getting your fingers deep into the guts of a giant squash. The tradition of carving pumpkins, and other vegetables, as lanterns goes back to Ireland and possibly other parts of Europe, but a few histories of the holiday note that this practice didn’t become associated with Halloween until the mid-19th century and initially in America. But these days the question is, what to carve? And what does your pumpkin say about you? This photo gallery might help.
Donning a disguise
Halloween’s “it” costumes are often determined by the year’s newest Disney princesses, big-screen superheroes, politicians, reality TV stars or musicians. For kids, this year’s crop includes “Toy Story 3” characters, “Alice in Wonderland” and “Avatar,” along with the usual movie princess suspects. For adults, it’s everything and anything “Jersey Shore.” MTV capitalized on this trend by launching its first reality-show costume line portraying the reality-TV show characters. Other creative costumes based on recent events include Chilean miners, “Bad planning” BP oil spill workers (10 percent of the proceeds are being donated to clean-up effort) and Antoine Dodson, the man in the YouTube bed-intruder viral video. Other popular hits include Lady Gaga, President Obama and vampires (inspired by the “Twilight” saga and “True Blood”). And, of course, the classic witch may be getting a makeover, thanks to Christine O’Donnell.
Trick or treat?
You ask: how much does Halloween cost Americans? According to a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, Americans spend approximately $66.28 per person on Halloween (up from last year’s $56.31). That’s on costumes, candy and decorations — a $5.8 billion industry. And about $2 billion of that will be spent on costumes, with about four out of 10 Americans saying they plan to dress up. Oh, and almost 12 percent intend to dress up their pets too.
Unlike comic Lewis Black, who wants you to believe in his shtick on candy corn, it wasn’t ALL created in 1911 and recycled continuously since then. It was first created in the 1880s and is made in HUGE quantities on an annual basis. According to the National Confectioners Association more than 35 million pounds of candy corn will be produced just this year. That’s nearly nine billion pieces, “enough to circle the moon nearly 21 times if laid end-to-end!”