From the earliest days of the Christian religion, celebrations were held the night before special days in the church. One of those special days was when the church celebrated saints and those who had died but whose souls had yet to reach heaven. The date varied over the centuries, but eventually, a date was selected when winter was approaching.

People dressed in black would roam the streets making mournful sounds to the departed. In the evening prior to the celebration, poor children would go from house to house collecting what were called soul cakes. The reward for the soul cakes was that they would pray for the dead. They carried with them hollowed-out turnips to protect them against evil spirits.

Eventually, the evening before the holy days of November 1 (All Saints Day) and November 2 (All Souls Day) became known as All Hallows Eve, now known as Halloween.

As colonists arrived in North America, the traditions of All Hallows Eve came with them. But it wasn’t until the mass immigration of Irish and Scots in the 19th Century that Halloween became a holiday nationwide.

Trick or treating, the present-day tradition of Halloween, originated with children requesting soul cakes for prayers. The costumes we now associate with Halloween began in Scotland and Ireland and were called guising.

Like many holidays in America, Halloween has become a commercial enterprise. The money spent on costumes exceeds $4 billion for children, $2 billion for adults, and $700 million for pets. Candy expenditures are close to $4 billion. Halloween sales are now a factor in the financing of movies. Spider-Man is the most popular costume for trick-or-treaters.

The money spent on Halloween is equivalent to what it would cost 56 hospitals or 43 elementary schools. Just imagine how our nation’s infrastructure could be updated with the money spent on Halloween.

It’s interesting how our society can complain about the decline of our shared public support systems but not see the foolishness of spending on Halloween.         

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“Halloween has become a mask of national stupidity.” – Anonymous  

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