Virtually all present Halloween traditions can be traced to the ancient Celtic “day of the dead.” Halloween is a holiday of many mysterious customs, but each one has a history or at least there’s a story behind it.
Perhaps you already know that the wearing of costumes, for example, and roaming from door to door demanding treats can be traced to the Celtic period and the first few centuries of the Christian era. It was thought back then that the souls of the dead were out and around, along with fairies, witches, and demons. Offerings of food and drink were left out to placate them.
As the centuries wore on, people began dressing like these dreadful creatures, performing antics in exchange for goods and drinks. This practice is called mumming, from which the practice of trick-or-treating evolved. To this day, witches, ghosts, and skeleton figures of the dead are among the favorite disguises.
Halloween also retains some features that trace back to the original harvest holiday of Samhain, such as the customs of bobbing for apples and carving vegetables, as well as the fruits, nuts, and spices cider associates with the day as well.
Don’t be scared now, but according to the U. S. Census Bureau, as many as 36.4 million potential trick-or-treaters, 5 to 13 year olds, don scary disguises that may bring on smiles as they go door to door among about 106 million occupied housing units in search of treats.
Along their way, the merry and/or mischievous trick-or-treaters, many dressed in scary garb rented from one of America’s 2,581 costume rental stores, encounter much of the 998 million pounds of pumpkins produced annually in the United States.
Illinois, with a production of 457 million pounds, leads the country. Pumpkin patches in California, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York also produce a lot of pumpkins; each state produces at least 70 million pounds worth. Now that’s a LOT of pumpkins. The value of all the pumpkins produced by these states is about $100 million a year.
So, whether you’re celebrating in Transylvania County, NC, Tombstone, AZ, Pumpkin Center, NC, Cape Fear, NC or Skull Creek, New Brunswick (population 291, with no known zombies), have a safe and happy Halloween!