From its origin dating back to the Celts celebrating Samhain Halloween is mix of traditions from Celtic, Catholic and Roman religious rituals. Celts would dress in costumes and light bonfires to ward off ghosts. The belief was that the boundaries between the living and the dead blurred on Halloween, making it easier for ghosts and spirits to return to cause mischief. The influence of Christianity had eventually spread into Celtic land, where it gradually blended with and ultimately replaced the older Celtic rituals. The church observed November 2 as All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. All Souls Day was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels and devils. The All Saints Day celebration was also called All-hallows and the night before it, the traditional night of Samhain in the Celtic religion, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween.
Today, Halloween is celebrated as a community and family event. Still incorporating much of the original rituals, such as parties, costumes, and scary symbols it has become one of the largest holidays of the year.
While parties and costumes are a large part of the Halloween tradition today, the candy industry in the U.S. yields close to $2 billion a year. Almost one quarter of all the candy sold in America in a given year is purchased for Halloween!
This year Americans will spend over $8 billion on decorations, candy and costumes, earning Halloween the second most commercial American holiday of the year. (Behind Christmas of course.)
And what about that full moon we traditionally see in most Halloween pictures and horror movies? The fact is that a full moon on Halloween is extremely rare. The next full moon scheduled to be seen on Halloween will be in 2020. The last Halloween full moon was in 2001.