Halloween is the spookiest night of the year and a celebration millions of Americans look forward to every autumn.
Knowing how to celebrate Halloween creates magical memories for adults and children alike, but why do Americans celebrate Halloween, and how do you celebrate Halloween the right way?
Let’s explore some American Halloween traditions and the origins of this special holiday.
Why Do Americans Celebrate Halloween?
October 31st is the night when American Halloween comes to life. The name comes from All Hallows Eve, which was a holy day celebrated the day before All Saints Day.
The celebration didn’t arrive on American shores until the 19th century when immigrants from Europe landed and popularized the tradition.
The tradition comes from the myth that the spirits of the dead would return to wreak havoc upon people, livestock, and crops on this night. By dressing up as monsters, ghosts, and devils, it was believed that people could scare away evil spirits.
It’s the original story of All Hallows Eve that informs many of the Halloween traditions in America today.
Halloween in American Culture
Halloween in American culture has shed much of its religious meaning. While not a designated federal holiday, this celebration has still taken American culture by storm.
From New York department stores to Californian talk show sets, Halloween decorations are a major part of U.S. culture.
Mostly, Halloween is a holiday aimed at young people. Children love the opportunity to dress up, eat candy, and party with their friends.
Halloween Traditions in the U.S.
What people do on Halloween largely depends on personal preference, but there are several traditions practiced across the country.
Let’s look at some of the Halloween traditions in America.
Traditionally, children and adults would dress up as vampires, werewolves, zombies, ghosts, and other spooky creatures.
Today, people dress up as princesses, superheroes, celebrities, or whatever they want. In many ways, Halloween has become an excuse to dress up without any limitations.
Trick or Treat
Children knock on their neighbors’ doors, say “Trick or treat!” and get some candy. Originally, if the adult didn’t give them any candy, the kid would get to play a trick on them. This has largely fallen out of favor, however, and children simply receive candy.
It’s not uncommon to see entire neighborhoods filled with children and their parents visiting each other’s houses.
The jack o’ lanterns seen outside homes harken back to the All Hallows Eve celebration to ward off the evil spirits of the dead.
Today, families go out together to get their pumpkins and carve a variety of images in them. These days, the carvings don’t have to be scary! They can be silly faces, a logo of your favorite sports team, or even detailed landscapes. During the nighttime hours, a candle is left inside to make the carvings glow in the dark.
Unique Things to Do on Halloween
There are no rules on how to celebrate Halloween. American Halloween is whatever you want it to be.
If you want to make your Halloween different this year, here are some creative Halloween ideas.
Visit a Haunted House
Grab the family and some friends and spend a night at a haunted house near you. Technology has improved a lot since the days of costumed ghouls jumping out from behind the curtains.
Nothing puts the scary into Halloween like a haunted house.
Beat an Escape Room
There’s nothing like an escape room, but what about a Halloween escape room? One of the best ways to celebrate Halloween, escape rooms are challenging and fun all at the same time.
Why not try out Paranoia Quest escape rooms. They have several Halloween themes, such as Zombie Apocalypse, Area 51, or the Harry Potter-inspired School of Magic.
Dress up and see if you can escape in the allotted time.
Grab a group of friends and family and head to the paintballing range. This is paintball with a twist. Ride on the back of a cart and shoot zombies with colorful ammunition in the middle of the woods.
In recent years, Halloween 5K races have been springing up across the nation. Dress up in your favorite costume and run with hundreds of other participants.
Many of these races have prizes not only for the winners but also for those with the best costumes.
Watch a Backyard Movie
Don’t watch a Halloween movie in the living room. Watch it in the darkness of your backyard. A backyard movie can be even scarier than watching inside. Bonus points for pulling some jump scares of your own!
Halloween traditions in America are constantly changing while clinging to their original roots. Make a new Halloween tradition this year with a trip to an escape room.
For a truly unique escape room experience with Paranoia Quest, try the Enhanced Zombie Apocalypse escape room, which even comes with a live actor.