MONDAY, OCTOBER 31: Boo! Don’t get scared just yet—tonight is the famed All Hallows Eve, better known as Halloween. In what may have originated as an ancient Celtic festival, All Hallows Eve has long been known for its associations with supernatural creatures, death, the return of the dead and superstitious occurrences. (History.com has more, including interactive resources.) Today, though, the eeriness of Halloween has been offset by cheery modern traditions like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o’-lanterns and bobbing for apples. But don’t worry—there’s still plenty of scary for anyone wishing to have a fright night. Horror movies, haunted houses and legends bring back to life the creepy nature once associated so intensely with this night.
Experts estimate that Halloween is now the most celebrated holiday in public schools, and never in its history has this evening been more geared toward children. Dressing up in costume and begging for treats on All Hallows Eve became popular in the Middle Ages, although it wasn’t until the 1930s that it became a widespread, official practice in the U.S. Halloween is now celebrated on almost every continent, and in Scotland, children still perform tricks and songs to earn their treats. (Wikipedia has details.) Yet most still retreat back to the spooky spirit of this night by dressing up as witches, ghosts, vampires, mummies and other frightening creatures. In fact, the National Retail Federation reports that supernatural figures are still the most popular Halloween costumes sold.
If you’re looking to get into the mood a little early, try out a Halloween craft or recipe from FamilyFun; for a formal Halloween party or sophisticated pumpkin-carving tips, check out Martha Stewart’s website. If you’re hoping for a more technical route to the holiday, look no further than your phone. The Android App Trick or Tracker allows parents to track their children’s Halloween whereabouts, while the iPhone Trick-or-Treater Counter allows those passing out candy to know exactly how many beggars came to their door. (Get more information here.)
However you choose to celebrate—have a happy and safe Halloween!
Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online journal covering religion and cultural diversity.