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Halloween in America – 10 Things You Should Know

Halloween in America pumpkins

If you’re planning to learn English in the US around Halloween, you’re in for some fun! America is the birthplace of modern Halloween traditions. America’s love of consumerism has propelled this traditionally Pagan holiday to new heights. From decorations to food, activities to all-round spookiness, there is a lot do be discovered. Halloween in America is nothing like anywhere else.



Halloween in America – 10 Things You Should Know

1. Halloween is BIG Business

Halloween is HUGE in America. In fact, it’s the second most commercially successful holiday after Christmas. It is estimated that one quarter of all candy purchased in the US is for Halloween. Overall spending for the holiday usually totals over $5 billion USD!


2. Irish Roots

Irish immigrants were the ones to bring the festival to America. Anoka, Minnesota, is said to be the first city in America to have held official Halloween celebrations, in 1921. Although Salem, Massachusetts, claims to be the “Halloween Capital of the World”. Salem is best known for the notorious witch trials that occurred there in the 17th century.

Halloween in America - Irish Roots


3. World Renowned Parades

The Village Halloween Parade in New York City is the largest celebration of its kind in the world. It has been picked by Festivals International as “The Best Event in the World” for October 31st. The theme for 2022 is “Freedom”. Just don’t forget your costume or you won’t be allowed in the parade!


4. Trick or Treat

A popular tradition followed by American children on Halloween is to go trick-or-treating. They dress up in fancy dress and go from house to house in their street asking “trick or treat?”. Children threaten the house owners with some sort of (harmless) mischief, unless they receive treats. It is believed that the tradition dates back to early Souls Day Parades in Europe. On this date poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called “soul cakes” in return for their promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives.


5. All the Candy

A ‘treat’ in America is generally some kind of sweet or chocolate – ‘candy’ as it’s known in America.

American Halloween - Family


6. Pumpkin Carving

In America, the traditional pumpkin with a cut-out face is known as a ‘Jack O Lantern’. Traditionally, turnips were used across Europe. However, immigrants to North America chose to use the native pumpkin, which was more readily available.


7. Fancy Dress

Halloween parties are usual for the 31st October and normally involve dressing up in costume too. Normal fancy dress costumes are witches, wizards, black cats, ghosts, goblins, vampires and skeletons. All these costumes have all evolved into symbols of Halloween.


8. For the Kids

In larger cities, children in fancy dress and their parents gather at shopping malls early in the evening, when shops and businesses give parties with games and treats for the children.

Halloween - Kids


9. Charity Events

“Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF” has become a common sight during Halloween in America too. It began as a local event in a Philadelphia neighbourhood in 1950 and expanded nationally a few years later. Nowadays, corporate sponsors like Hallmark collect for charity donations.


10. Greetings Cards

In America, it’s common to send Halloween cards, a practice which dates back to the early 1920’s. These days, over 28 million Halloween cards are sent each year.


Discover more about Halloween in America by studying in the USA:

Are you interested in learning more about American culture by studying in the US? Cactus offers a variety of language holidays across the world. We also offer online language courses, language classes in the UK, and private classes.

Have you read about Halloween in America and want to find out more? Are you looking to find out more about learning a language? Cactus Language Holidays Brochure gives you all the information you need for your next unforgettable experience! Learning a language have never been easier and is a great way to start uncover a different culture.

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