Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Today, the United States celebrates Halloween. Although adults do not get the day off of work and children do not get the day off from school, it is perhaps the second most important holiday in the U.S. for children, topped only by Christmas. On CCN International last night, they spotlighted retail sales of Candy in the United States, noting that candy sales topped the $2B mark for the holiday, accounting for approximately 1/3 of all candy sales during the year.

Since I am in a different country where Halloween is not celebrated, I have tried to explain exactly what the "holiday" represents. I start off by saying it is a variation from Latin festivals "Day of the Dead" and most likely has an original in the Roman "All Souls Day" from ancient times. However, I have no idea how to explain the large amounts of candy, the elaborate parties at bars and other adult establishments, and of course, those crazy costumes. I guess I would say that it should be chalked up to American commercialization of, well, just about everything. See a couple of photos from this past weekend of my friends in action. (Kudos to their wives for putting them on Facebook where I could steal them for my blog!)

Stolly and Ellis as Alan and Stu from "The Hangover"
Travis Rockey as "Teen Wolf"
According to the History Channel:
Straddling the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity, life and death, Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition. It is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints’ Day, incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a secular, community-based event characterized by child-friendly activities such as trick-or-treating. In a number of countries around the world, as the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, people continue to usher in the winter season with gatherings, costumes and sweet treats.
Be sure to save some candy corn and a pumpkin for me, I get back to Ohio 3 weeks from today.

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