Celebrating Halloween in the United States

We take a brief look at the history of Halloween and how it’s celebrated in the United States. Don’t be scared!

Halloween, also known as All Hallows’ Eve is a holiday celebrated around the world on October 31. The history is still kind of unknown and still debated today. But what we were able to find out most believe the holiday started from the Pagan Celtic celebration of Samhain in the British Isles. People believed spirits came back to Earth and visited the living. People would leave food outside their homes to encourage good spirits and they wore masks to scare away the bad spirits.

During the massive Irish immigration into America during the 1840s, Halloween found it’s way to the U.S. where it’s grown into what it is today.

The holiday is also known as “All Hallows’ Eve”. “Hallow” is an Old English word for “holy person”. If you would like to read more about the history of this holiday, we recommend www.pumpkinpatchesandmore.org.

How Halloween Is Celebrated

Children trick-or-treating! Photograph courtesy of http://www.britannica.com/



This is mostly for children during Halloween. Children dress is costume and visit houses in the neighborhood asking for candy. The children ask the question, “Trick or treat?”. Trick means they would do something bad if no great is given to them.


Most costumes for Halloween follow supernatural icons, such as monsters, ghosts, witches, and skeletons. Costumes are popular with people of all ages! Among university students dressing up like celebrities is also very popular, along with police officers, pirates, vampires, and superheros like Batman and Captain America. Depending on what’s going on in the news, university students are very creative and make their own costumes, such as Hurricane Sandy or President Obama.

Haunted Houses

If you like being scared out of your mind, then you need to visit a haunted house! These places are designed to give you a thrill. Take a look at the video below as an example of being inside a haunted house.


With any holiday, the food is very important! And for Halloween, it’s all about the candy. The most popular candies include:

Candy apples. Photo courtesy of http://tammysalo.com/

-Candy apples

-Candy corn

-Caramel apples

-Caramel corn

-Candy shaped like skulls, pumpkins, bats, worms, etc.

-Pumpkin, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread. You may have noticed there are a LOT of pumpkin flavored items out right now!

-Roasted pumpkin seeds

Carving Pumpkins

A carved pumpkin for Halloween is also known as a “jack o’ lantern’. This tradition actually originated from carving large turnips! The story on how this tradition started is still debated today. Some believe ‘jack o’ laterns’ are used to protect a home from evil spirits. Some people believe they protect against vampires. Either way, it’s fun to carve pumpkins!

Carving a pumpkin is pretty simple. Watch this quick video on how to carve a pumpkin!


We understand you’re in college and drinking alcohol is a big part of the culture. So yes, during Halloween it’s a tradition for university students who are at least 21 years of age to drink. Many students get dressed up in costumes and go to parties or local bars and clubs. If you choose to do this, please be careful and go with a group of friends. Unfortunately, Halloween can be a dangerous time for college students. Be smart and plan ahead!

These are just some of the ways we celebrate Halloween in the United States. Do you plan on celebrating the holiday? Would you like to share your photos with International Student Voice?

Share your photos on our Facebook page or email them to our Chief Editor at ccircosta@internationalstudentvoice.org

No matter how you celebrate, we encourage you to have fun responsibly!

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