Halloween is celebrated in South Africa

Halloween in the USA: origins and typical customs

Even if Halloween is one of the most important festivals of the year in the USA, the custom actually originated in Ireland. The festival was imported by Irish immigrants around 1830. Learn more about the creepy background custom here.

Halloween in the USA: a custom with centuries of history

November 1st, the day after Halloween, has been a religious holiday since the ninth century. On this day, Christians celebrate All Saints' Day and commemorate the deceased saints. In English this holiday is called "All Hallows", accordingly the eve of this festival is the "All Hallows Eve". Over time, the term shortened to "Halloween", which we celebrate today on October 31st.

Others suspect, however, that the custom is of Celtic origin and goes back to a festival in honor of the god of the dead Samhain. The Celts heralded the beginning of the dark season. They believed that at this time the border between the earthly world and the realms of the dead and spirits was particularly porous. Evil spirits were to be kept away by fire. The living tried to camouflage themselves through dark disguises so that the evil spirits would mistake them for theirs.

Jack-o-lanterns are the symbol of Halloween in the United States

Jack-o-lanterns are inextricably linked to Halloween in the United States. They mark the houses where the famous "trick or treat", that is, begging for sweets, is worthwhile. This custom also goes back to an Irish legend: the villain Jack Oldfield was not allowed to go to heaven or hell after his death.

So that his lost soul did not have to wander through the underworld in complete darkness, the devil gave him a turnip with glowing coal in it as a lantern. The beet was replaced in the USA by the more common pumpkin and henceforth called Jack O'Lantern.

Halloween in the USA: important festival well in advance

Weeks before October 31, the actual Halloween festival, Americans decorate their windows and gardens with eerie symbols such as skeletons, witches, black cats, ghosts and, of course, pumpkin faces. Sending greeting cards to friends and acquaintances is as common on Halloween in the USA as sending Christmas greetings in this country.

Halloween in the USA is marked by numerous celebrations, parties and even large masked balls at which adults dress up as deceased historical greats. The custom is also celebrated in schools with fancy costumes. Traditionally it is the custom to collect not only candy but also donations for charity on Halloween in the USA.