In America, Halloween stands for a congregation of both religious and pagan beliefs, rituals and traditions. Irish immigrants were the ones to bring the festival to America. In 1840, during their escape from their country’s potato famine, they came to America and made it familiar with Halloween. Anoka, Minnesota, was the first city in America to conduct Halloween celebration officially, in 1921. Every year on October 31, Americans celebrate Halloween with complete zeal and enthusiasm. The festival is celebrated to pay tribute to the departed souls of the near and dear ones. It is believed that the souls of the dead relatives come to earth to visit their living relatives.
Until the 19th century, Halloween had not become a major holiday in the United States (US). It was in the 20th century that the commercialization aspect came into being and the popularity of the festival increased. The earliest commercial venture comprised of the Halloween postcards, which were in vogue from 1905 to 1915. Today, Americans decorate their houses with jack-o'-lanterns, scarecrows, witches and decorations like spiders, pumpkins, mummies, vampires and Frankensteins. They also use lighting, such as orange and purple string lights, to illuminate their houses. Other popular decorations include tombstones and gargoyles made of foam.
Though Irish Catholics originally brought Halloween to America, one can find many aspects of the festival existing in South America much before. Long before the Celts came to America, Incas and other civilizations have been celebrating pagan death festivals. They used to parade their dead rulers’ body through Cusco’s main square, during the Summer Solstice. With the coming of Catholics in South America, the festivities were changed to relate them to Saints’ images for All Saint’s Day. Today, in America, Halloween is more of a communal celebration rather than being a religious holiday.
A popular tradition followed by American children on Halloween is trick-or-treaters. This is a fun game where the children dressed up in fancy costumes go from house to house asking “trick or treat?” In this game, the children mildly threaten the house owners about doing some mischief, if they are not given treats. In North America, the idea of trick-or-treat hails from the belief that one must be kind to the departed souls, lest they play a trick on the person. Neo-pagans in North America consider Halloween to be the turning point between the old and the new year. Besides, the festival marks the gateway between the living and dead world. They believe that the two worlds come closer during this festival, which facilitate their communication with the ancestors.
Organizing Halloween parties, especially the masquerade parties, is growing as a popular trend of the festival among the people in America. Both children and adults put on costumes of ghouls, goblins, princesses and pirates. They might dress up as as hobglobins, ghosts and witches as well and tell stories of ghosts and witches. They carve out shining jack-o?-lanterns from the pumpkins. The popularity of Halloween in America is increasing year after year. Media, like television, movies and other media, have contributed significantly to the growth of Halloween as one of the largest commercial holidays in America.