Halloween in America: History and Traditions

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Halloween is a beloved holiday for many Americans. Children and adults alike love to dress up in costumes, go to parties or trick or treating, and eat sweets and snacks. With all of the decorations and hype around the holiday, many people do not know the history of the holiday in America. Furthermore, people visiting the United States may be unaware of our American traditions. Through photos and stories by IELP staff, we invite you to learn more about Halloween!

History

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A Halloween party in 1924.

The original American colonies were mostly Puritan, and were against celebrating Halloween due to it’s association with evil and mischief. However, an influx of immigrants in the late nineteenth century helped popularize Halloween.

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Trick-or-treating increased in popularity as Americans began to dress up and go door-to-door, asking for food and money. While the history of Halloween was traditionally tied with ghosts, tricks, and witchcraft, there was a movement by neighborhoods to make Halloween about community and celebration. This was followed by the removal of “frightening” or “grotesque” descriptions of Halloween by parents and in newspapers, which made the holiday lose most of its religious overtones by the twentieth century.

Modern Traditions

Some traditions have remained from the early days of Halloween, but there are new traditions that are popular, especially within American colleges.

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Dressing up for Halloween is popular among people of all ages. In American colleges, finding a costume and dressing up for Halloween parties is a fun activity for many students. As pictured above, our IELP students love to dress up in fun costumes for our Mid-Quarter party!

Popular costumes include classic spooky costumes (skeletons, pumpkins, witches, and scary characters), animals, fairy-tale characters (Little Red Riding Hood, princesses), and pop culture references. Some people dress up in simple costumes, and some people like to go all out!

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Many students love to spend a couple hours with friends or family and carve a jack o’ lantern! This popular Halloween activity is known around the world, and is very popular in America. In many homes, you can see jack o’ lanterns lit with candles on Halloween night!

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Another Halloween tradition that is emerging in some American homes is “the Teal Pumpkin Project.” Homes with a teal pumpkin outside the door mean that the home is giving away non-food items, or non-allergen treats. Although most college students do not go trick-or-treating since the activity is meant for children, it is fun to know why teal pumpkins are popping up around Seattle!

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It is not uncommon to find a house in America that has Halloween decorations. Although usually not as complex as the one pictured above, many houses will be decorated with fake cobwebs, pumpkins and gourds, and other spooky decorations. While many countries celebrate Halloween, America is distinctly extravagant with decorations.

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For adults, and especially college students, there is no better way to celebrate Halloween than watching scary and classic Halloween movies. Horror movies are popular in every country, and loved year-round, but Halloween is a great time to re-watch your favorites.

There are some American movies made for children and teens that are not scary, but have a spooky element and are popular viewing during October. If you are interested, here are some favorites of our IELP staff: Halloweentown, Hocus Pocus, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Beetlejuice, and Casper.

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Whether you dress up, carve a jack o’ lantern, or watch Halloween movies, IELP wishes you a happy Halloween!

Photo credits: Pixabay, Pinterest, History by Zim, IELP, Wonderopolis, Anoka Halloween, Bustle.com

Celebrate 4th of July this Summer!

Independence Day is one of the biggest American holidays during the summer. Traditional activities include having a BBQ, eating apple pie, watching fireworks, and wearing red white and blue. Even if you don’t identify as American, it’s a fun and easy holiday to celebrate, and there are so many ways to get involved around Seattle! Here are some of the many activities going on in Seattle this July 4th.

1.Seafair Summer Fourth

This free, family-friendly fair takes place at Gasworks Park, only about a 20 minute walk from West campus! There will be food vendors, live entertainment, and “All-American games” such as pie-eating contests and sack-races during the day, with a spectacular firework show after the sun sets over Lake Union.

Event Website: http://www.seafair.com/events/2017/seafair-summer-4th

Credit: seafair.com

2. Family Fourth of July, Seatac 

This festival takes place all day at Angle Lake Park and features a free water spray park with spray nozzles for children to run through, carnival rides and bouncers, and a fantastic firework show at night.

For more Info: http://www.ci.seatac.wa.us/government/city-departments/parks-community-programs-services/special-events/family-fourth-of-july

3. Burien’s Fourth of July Parade

This parade is one of the oldest and most highly attended in King County! Beginning at 3pm and running for about 2 hours, this parade features floats, pirates, marching bands, and so much more! For more information on how to get involved, visit their website:

http://www.discoverburien.org/events/2017/07/04/

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4. Kent Fourth of July Splash

This unique festival features traditional American games from noon-5pm such as pie-eating contests and T-Bird puck and shoot. Kent also provides free shuttle transportation and parking close to Lake Meridian, and of course, no Fourth of July would be complete without a fireworks finale!

Event website: http://www.kentwa.gov/residents/parks-recreation-and-community-services/events/fourth-of-july-splash