Halloween in America: origins, traditions and celebrations

byVerónica Crocitti

How is Halloween celebrated in America and what are the true origins of the famous witches' night? Everything you need to know.

Witches with the strangest hats, tortured and terrifying faces, little devils looking to "trick or treat?". And then pumpkins of all sizes, carved with macabre and deliberately mysterious smiles. Halloween has now become a "cult" in much of the world, even in those countries where, due to cultural and religious traditions, it would have been said that such a holiday would never take root. Yet this is not the case: thenight of October 31st, all the symbolism linked to death and the occult comes out manifesting itself in increasingly varied forms and expressions...

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The Halloween holiday has its roots in the traditions of the Gaels and Celts in the British archipelago. It is in fact linked to theCeltic festival of Samhain, which in Old Irish meant “the end of summer.” According to the Celtic calendar of 2 thousand years ago, in fact, the new year began on October 31st. It was the Irish themselves who landed them during the migrations of the 19th centuryHalloween directly in America.

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It is in the United States that this festival linked to occult masks and terrible witches was a resounding success, so much so that it became one of the main holidays. The actual name "Halloween", however, is linked to a variant of the Scottish oneAll Hallows' Eve (All Hallows' Eve). We must not forget that, in 840, the Catholic Church officially established the feast of November 1st, All Saints' Day, with the aim of superimposing the Christian tradition on the more ancient one linked to the sphere of the macabre and death. The result is that today both have remained intact.


Although Halloween's roots are Irish, this holiday has experienced all its splendor on American soil. The atmosphere that accompanies the month of October in America is so magical that it is almost surreal. For thirty-one very long days,everything takes on the taste and color of the pumpkin. Supermarkets are filled with pumpkin milk, pumpkin yogurt, pumpkin desserts, pumpkin liqueurs. The courtyards of the houses become a riot of orange colours, with masks and ghosts hanging everywhere. The windows appearspiders and cobwebs, while witches' hats peek out from behind the curtains.


Then, on October 31st, all the doors remain wide open, adults and children alike flock to the streets, splendidly disguised. Children knock on houses askingtrick or treat?, the boys prepare for the dancing evenings. There is no person in America who is not intimately involved in this holiday. And so, while in Italy we only feel the consumerist aftermath of Halloween, amidst criticism and controversy, in America we really experience it..."Trick or trear, smell my feet, give me something to eat”.

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