Rakbo Explains: Halloween In America

Forget Christmas, Halloween is the most ~*wonderful*~ time of the year. If this is your first Halloween in America then YOU’RE IN FOR A (trick or) TREAT. Lucky for you, Rakbo is dishing out the inside scoop on how we celebrate Halloween here in the U.S. of A.

The History of the most Spook-tastic Holiday of All Time

Halloween is a holiday that everyone in America celebrates but no in is really 100% sure why. Most holidays are tied to religion (Hanukkah, Easter) or an important even in America’s history (Thanksgiving, 4th of July) but for some reason we keep Halloween around – it’s a good excuse to dress up, watch spooky movies and eat a metric ton of candy.

The holiday’s true roots are pagan – back in the the day (and I mean WAY back, all the way to 40AD) Halloween celebrated the end of the harvest season. Fast forward to the 1800s and the Pope stepped in (typical Pope shenanigans, amirite?)  and designated November 1 to mark the Christian feast of All Saints Day (aka All Hallows Day). People started celebrating this holiday at sunset the night before, also known as… wait for it… Hallows Eve… Hallowseve… Halloweven… HALLOWEEN!


The Good Stuff

Enough of the history lesson, what exactly is Halloween and how do Americans celebrate it?

1.We let our children walk around at night, knock on strangers doors and beg for candy

As a kid, Halloween is all about collecting as much candy as humanly possible. You dress up in a culturally relevant costume (usually found in the Halloween aisle at Target or (if you have an ambitious parent) a homemade get up. After dark you grab a pillowcase, flashlight, and one of your parents to walk door to door shouting “trick or treat!” Then strangers give you candy! THIS IS THE PERFECT HOLIDAY.


2. We carve Jack-o-Lanterns

WTF is a Jack-o-Lantern? Step one: get a pumpkin. Step two: scoop out all of its innards and guts (this is the really gross part). Step three: carve a face or other pattern into the pumpkin’s flesh. Creativity is strongly encouraged.


3. We play dress up

Anyone and everyone from age 0 – 110 is encouraged to dress up on Halloween. In my neighborhood if you went trick or treating without a costume then NO CANDY FOR YOU. Young adults go through this phase of dressing up in halloween costumes like “Sexy Carrot,” “Sexy Sea Turtle” and even “Sexy Donald Trump.” While many men and women use the holiday as an excuse to show off what their mama gave ’em, most young Americans use Halloween as an opportunity to be someone different for an evening. Halloween is one night a year where it’s socially acceptable to walk out of the house wearing whatever you damn well please – a paper sack, an elaborate cosplay, whatever your heart desires!


4. We love our scary movies

From kid-friendly classics like Halloween Town to cult favorites like Hocus Pocus and Rocky Horror Picture Show all the way to the truly scream-worthy like Paranormal Activity, Americans love to give themselves a good spook. We even have a TV channel that plays nothing but scary movies for 13 days straight.

halloween in america - scary movies

5. We eat candy. Lots and LOTS of candy.

For little kids it’s all about finding the one person in your neighborhood that hands out full sized candy bars (JACKPOT). For college students it’s about raiding CVS and Walgreens on November 1st to stock up on all the seriously discounted Halloween-themed candy. No matter your age, candy brings Americans together on this fine, fine day. Halloween is the first of the weight-gain trifecta in the U.S. (followed by Thanksgiving and Christmas, JUST in time for that weight-loss New Year’s resolution). My advice? Avoid the candy corn and go for the Reese’s Pumpkins.


What will you be dressing up as this Halloween? Get out there and celebrate like a true American!

Images: unsplash (1), tumblr (2), West Side Rag (1), giphy (3)

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Angela Sandall

Angela is a writer, traveller and human being from Chicago, IL. After attending school at Loyola University and working in the world of experiential marketing (where she did wacky things like crane cars onto roofs, ride in the Batmobile and pal around with famous dogs) she started writing and traveling full time. Traveling to a different city every month, she spends her days going to museums, meeting locals and searching for the best tacos the world has to offer.

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