Halloween: Tricks, Treats and Lots of Money

Updated: Nov 17, 2020

Once a year on October 31st, ghouls and ghosts flood the sidewalks. From suburbia to metropolitan cities, they scamper down the street in looks for treats and hopefully no tricks. It's not all fun and games, however. Halloween has become a significant holiday in its own right, bringing in a hefty haul. Forbes reported that Halloween brought in a whopping 6.9 billion dollars in 2015. That can buy quite a bit of candy.

 Halloween kickstarts the October, November, and December holiday seasons, but over the years it's become a significant holiday in its own right. How did Halloween grow to become the commercial cash crop it is today?

What Are The Origins of Halloween?

Modern Halloween has an evolution that starts with the Celts and winds its way around the world from the Roman Empire to Mexico. The history of Halloween touches many cultures.

The Celts

Samhain, pronounced "sow way," is Celtic for "end of summer". It was the transition from summer to the beginning of the winter. Because the winters were harsh and often resulted in human death, the period of time between the end of summer and winter became one of reflection on death and the dead. According to History.com, the ancient Celts believed that on the 31st of October, the veil between the living and the dead was thinned and spirits of those that had passed could communicate with the living. They also believed that these spirits would prophesize about future crops. Life was tough for the ancient Celts, so they valued these predictions and found comfort from feeling like they had some control of the future. The Celts began to celebrate the event by dressing up in animal skins, lighting large bonfires, and telling fortunes to each other.

How Did Halloween Start in the United States?

At first, Halloween wasn't very popular in the United States. The Protestant influence stifled the celebratory practices to the southern portion of the US, but when Irish immigrants began to pour into the country during the turn of the century, the popularity of Halloween began to grow. However, early Halloween celebrations focused on adults. It was generally a time for young adults to gather and socialize. In fact, young women often thought that could conjure up a husband if they did magic with yarn.

 It wasn't until the mid-century that Halloween started to be seen as a holiday for children and trick-or-treating in the form of going door to door for candy and began to gain popularity in the mainstream.

‘Orange and Black’ is the New Green

Nowadays, Halloween is big business that brings in a lot of green. It is only second to Christmas when it comes to the amount of consumer spending. The money spent on the Halloween holiday goes beyond just candy purchases. Costumes are big business. When you walk into any big discount store, Halloween pop-up shop, or drug store, the shelves are lined with Captain America's, Black Panthers, Harry Potter, any Disney character you can imagine, and newer cultural pop-culture phenomenons like costumes influenced by Stranger Things and other Netflix series. Everyone wants to get their kid the show-stopping costume that is going to make everyone ohhh and ahhh.

 It's not only the candy and the costumes, however. Halloween decorations bring in a good chunk of the money spent on the holiday. From the end of August until October 31st you can find a wide variety of Halloween items to decorate inside your home and yard. From the genuinely horrifying to the adorably shabby chic, the aisles are filled with skeletons, pumpkins, black cats, scarecrows, bales of hay.

 Halloween isn't just for kids and those with families. Adults with or without children are also starting to get into the Halloween spirit, as costumes for adults have begun to gain popularity over the years and why not? Halloween is fun, and of course, us grown-ups want in on it too.

 Halloween may have started as an ancient Celtic festival that was later adapted by Catholics, but it's now an American tradition. A day where kids and adults alike dress up, overeat candy, and pretend to be their favorite superhero. It's easy to see why it's one of America's favorite holidays

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