Halloween Then and Now

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Are you excited that it's Halloween? Halloween has been a popular and festive holiday in America since the beginning of the colonial period. Many early American settlers who came from England brought beliefs about ghosts and witches with them. In the 1800's, many immigrants from Ireland and Scotland arrived in the United States and introduced their Halloween traditions. By the end of the 1800's, the United States had developed a variety of regional Halloween customs.

Halloween was just as popular in 1917 when World Book published its first encyclopedia. In the 1900's, Halloween became a celebration for children more than adults. Children played more at being witches, ghosts, and fairies than their favorite superheroes or movie characters. Halloween parties were more common than trick-or-treating, but Halloween traditions including jack-o-lanterns and bobbing for apples were just as popular. Trick-or-treating only became widespread during the 1940's and 1950's.

In 1917, World Book mentions the peculiar Halloween superstitions of the Scots highlighted in a poem by Robert Burns. World Book’s advice to teachers was that the day was best suited for “busy work,” such as crafting pumpkin-shaped paper notebooks, as children were likely to be too excited and distracted by thoughts of Halloween festivities to concentrate on their studies. World Book provided a handy program of Halloween-themed songs and poems to help teachers keep students occupied.

Today, Halloween has become one of the most profitable holidays for American business. Many people decorate their houses with Halloween themes. Halloween celebrations among adults have also become increasingly popular. Many cities provide Halloween entertainments for families at parks, zoos, and amusement parks. Many private and civic organizations create mock haunted houses for entertainment and to raise money for charity.

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