2017 Halloween

 

The First Halloween Celebrations

Anoka, Minnesota, a.k.a the “Halloween Capital of the World,” was the first city in America to officially hold a Halloween celebration, in an effort to divert kids from pulling pranks like tipping outhouses and letting cows loose to run around on Main Street. The town organized a parade and spent the weeks prior planning and making costumes. Treats of popcorn, peanuts and candy to any children who participated in the parade, followed by a huge bonfire in the town square. The event grew over time and has been held every year since 1920 except 1942 and 1943 when festivities were cancelled due to World War II. These days Anoka, holds elaborate Halloween festivals with a parade, carnivals, costume contests, house decorating, and other community celebrations, living up to its self-proclaimed title of “Halloween Capital of the World.” Salem, Massachusetts, associated mostly with witches due in part to its long and sometimes torrid history, also lays claim to the title. Many historians quietly back away from that debate leaving the two cities to duke it out for themselves. 

Halloween in Modern America

The popularity of Halloween has increased year after year. Television, movies, and other media outlets have helped Halloween grow into America’s second largest commercial holiday, which brings in an estimated $6.9 billion dollars annually. Watching horror movies and visiting haunted attractions, real haunts or haunted theme parks is a popular modern way to celebrate the evening. Just as it was in the colonial times, Halloween in America is a melting pot of everything that is Halloween. There is no correct way to celebrate the holiday. Overzealous religious and social organizations have unsuccessfully tried to squash the holiday by spreading lies or rumors hoping to tarnish the image of Halloween by associating it with evil. The truth is there are many unsubstantiated reports and rare attacks on ordinary citizens in the way of razorblades in apples or kidnappings and killings for Satanic rituals. Most myths are created to simply prey on human fears, sometimes for fun and sometimes to railroad thoughts and beliefs to serve the purpose of a select few. 

The biggest challenge facing today’s 38 million trick or treaters is staying safe in a world where the criminal types use Halloween as an excuse to act on deviant behavior. Many school and local communities will organize trick or treating in shopping malls, especially in neighborhoods where gang activity is prevalent. Parent worries in even the safe neighborhoods have adopted this practice as well. It saves money in the long run and is safe for all those involved and is slowly becoming the preferred way to celebrate in these volatile times. 

Some have argued that Halloween has lost its spiritual meaning due to all the corporate and media influences. In this technology driven world, it’s important to remember that along with society, even holidays are subject to evolution. No matter what people choose to do, no matter what cultural, spiritual or material way, as long as people celebrate in a safe and happy way, the spirit of Halloween in America will endure for ages. But it’s always nice to take a look back at history and learn how it all began.

 

Date: 
Tuesday, October 31, 2017 (All day)

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