Halloween - also known as All Hallows Eve, the night before the Christian festival of All Saints Day - is one of the most bizarre of our modern festivals. It's also a tribute to the human spirit that we react to ancient fears of ghosts and demons by laughing at them and having a good party!
HistoryThe exact origin of Halloween is uncertain, however it seems to be linked to the ancient pagan festival of Samhain. It was believed by many people that on this night the boundaries between the mortal and spirit world were weakened, allowing evil spirits to cross over into our world. Many of our Halloween traditions such as the demonic Jack 'Lantern and Trick or Treat (known here in Scotland as guising) relate to these old beliefs.
Today, of course, these fears are buried under the fun of dressing up in outrageous costumes and simply having a good time. It's a great party that both adults and kids can enjoy. It's also one of the most important commercial events of the year, especially to those who sell Halloween decorations, costumes, masks, etc.
Other industries also get their slice of the pumpkin pie: in 2005 the US National Confectioners Association estimated that 80% of US adults planned to give out candy to trick-or-treaters. The National Retail Federation estimated that 53% of consumers planned to buy a Halloween costume.
Love it or hate it, Halloween is big business and here to stay.