Halloween II

(Collector's Edition) (1981) Jamie Lee Curtis

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Halloween

(Two-Disc Special Edition) (2007) Malcolm McDowell

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DreamWorks Halloween

Double Pack (Scared Shrekless / Monsters vs Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins From Outer Space)

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History of Halloween

The Haunted History of Halloween (History Channel) (A&E DVD Archives) (2005)

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Return to Halloweentown

(Ultimate Secret Edition) (2006) Sara Paxton

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The Day After Halloween

(Katarina's Nightmare Theater) Sigrid Thornton

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SpongeBob SquarePants

Halloween (1999) Tom Kenny

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Halloween III

Season of the Witch (1982) Tom Atkins

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Playhouse Disney Halloween

(Just Say Boo/A Spookie Ookie Halloween) (1998) Cole Caplan

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Halloween

25 Years of Terror (2006) John Ottman

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why do we americans celebrate halloween?

my art class is doing a cultural exchange with students in the Ukraine, and my topic is how and why we celebrate halloween in america. i know how we celebrate it [with candy and dressing up in costumes], but i never really understood WHY we celebrate halloween.

so please help me? i tried to research online but there was a lot of biased information, so i dont know what to do anymore. i just need one paragraph.

thanks so much <:D!

3 Responses to why do we americans celebrate halloween?

  • Fiona says:

    First of all, you were very smart to do research before asking and to recognize the huge amount of bias that appears in many articles about Halloween’s history. A lot of false romanticized ideas are also a problem. I hope this helps:

    The word Hallowe’en is a contraction of All Hallows Eve which means All Saints Eve; so-called because it is the night before All Saints Day. Although feast days to honor the saints existed before, a celebration of all the Christian martyrs was established on May 13 in 7th century by the Roman Catholic Church, then All Saints Day was established on November 1 in the 8th century. Not long after, All Souls Day was placed on November 2 to honor the dead and pray for the souls in Purgatory. Today these combined holidays are celebrated as a public holiday in many European and South American countries (as well as a few other places). Pre-Christian Roman customs, such as those practiced on Feralia and Parentalia, which were celebrated in February, may have influenced how All Saints and Souls are practiced (although the stories of a Roman day to honor Pomona being a part of Halloween are not supported by any evidence).

    When All Saints arrived in Ireland, a feast day called Samhain already existed and had been assigned to the date of November 1. According to numerous mythological sagas and historical records, Samhain was a time for an important gathering with feasting and games, epic battles and heroic feats, divination, and interaction between the world of mortals and the otherworld of the fairies (not the cute little ones with wings that we think of today). Although there is no evidence that the Roman Catholic church was trying to replace Samhain when it established All Saints, it is very obvious from the numerous written records that Samhain traditions, and pre-Christian Irish beliefs, became a large part of All Hallows in Ireland, and eventually came to be called Hallowe’en. Divination and a belief in fairy activity, combined with Christian interpretations of the supernatural, came to dominate Halloween over the more Catholic traditions. In fact, All Saints isn’t a public holiday in Ireland; instead they observe an October bank holiday. Although Samhain unquestionably referred to the first of November in the old stories, and Gam seems to have denoted November or winter, the word Samhain now refers to the entire month of November in Irish Gaelic, and Irish for Halloween is oiche shamhna (Samhain eve).

    Irish, and Scottish, immigrants brought Halloween to North America in the 19th century (there was a very large influx of Irish immigrants during the potato famine). At first, it retained a lot of its Irish and Scottish character with things like romantic divination being a significant part of the holiday (this can be seen on early Halloween cards). Partying and mischief making were the other big traditions on Halloween. However, Americans eventually changed Halloween and made it their own. Divination games disappeared and new traditions came along: commercial haunted attractions, organized civic celebrations, lots of Hollywood influences, and trick-or-treat (it is true that costuming and door-to-door begging practices had long existed for several holidays, including Christmas, but trick-or-treat has never been shown to have a direct connection to any of these. There is probably some loose connection, but the details are unknown). Today, Halloween is entirely secular and considered to be an American holiday. Some countries around the world are adopting the American Halloween, which is creating controversy among those who feel it is overshadowing their traditions.

    Halloween isn’t the only holiday to combine the Catholic All Saints/All Souls with pre-Christian traditions. Mexico’s Day of the Dead is another well-known exmple of this mixing, and the Odawa ghost suppers are a much lesser known example.

  • T-Dogg says:

    cuz we like candy!
    tee-hee =]

  • dougeebear says:

    The origins of Halloween can be traced back to the ancient Celts, and many of those traditions were kept alive by the Catholic Church in celebration of All Saints Day Nov 1. In fact the word "Halloween" means the night before Alhallowmesse (middle English for All Saints Day) and October 31st became known as All Hallows Eve, now contracted to Hallowe’en and spelled without the apostrophe.

    Halloween in America really took off in the mid 1800’s with the influx of European immigrants and their traditions. Irish folklore about Stingy Jack gave us the Jack O’Lantern. Parties for adults and children were the way to celebrate the holiday, often with bobbing for apples and divination games played by the young ladies to see who they might marry in the future. The various wars interrupted and altered Halloween celebrations over the years, and children began to migrate toward pranks. Around the 50’s, with the baby boom in full swing, communities focused the attention on children and trick-or-treating, sometimes with Halloween parades to show off their costumes, discouraging the trick aspects of trick-or-treating.

    Nowadays, adults have taken on the practice of dressing in costume and going to large events, such as the Halloween Parade in Greenwich Village. The holiday has something that can be fun for any age.

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