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American Halloween Traditions: Best and Ultimate Guide to Spooky Fun

As the leaves begin to rustle and the air grows crisper, Halloween, that bewitching and captivating holiday, approaches once more! It’s a time of year when the ordinary takes on an extraordinary twist, and the boundaries between reality and the supernatural seem to blur. Halloween’s origins are shrouded in the mists of time, with ancient Celtic traditions, European folklore, and contemporary American pop culture all contributing to the diverse tapestry of this holiday.

So, let’s don our costumes, light the jack-o’-lanterns, and venture forth into the captivating world of Halloween traditions in America. As we embark on this journey, it’s not only an opportunity to explore the customs that have evolved over centuries but also a chance for me to wander down memory lane, reminiscing about the cherished moments and experiences that have made Halloween a time of enchantment and delight in my own life.

What is Halloween?

Halloween is a holiday celebrated each year on October 31. In the United States, Halloween has evolved over the years into a multifaceted celebration that combines elements of Celtic traditions, European folklore, and contemporary pop culture. The tradition originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts.

In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints. Soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween.

Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, festive gatherings, donning costumes and eating treats.

­In the United States, Halloween lags just behind New Year’s Eve and the Super Bowl in total number of parties, and it’s second only to Christmas in total consumer dollars spent.

Did you know? One quarter of all the candy sold annually in the U.S. is purchased for Halloween.

Did you know? More people, especially millennials, are buying costumes for their pets. Twenty percent did so in 2018, up from 16 percent in 2017. 

Halloween Decorations

Halloween decorations contribute greatly to establishing that eerie and festive ambiance. It’s a time when many households go all out, embellishing their homes with intricately carved pumpkins, eerie spider webs, creepy skeletons, and hauntingly atmospheric lighting. Some enthusiastic decorators even transform their garages or front yards into elaborate haunted houses, offering an exhilarating scare to those who dare to enter.

Americans LOVE to decorate their homes for the holidays. Stores begin stocking their shelves with Halloween decor as early as September, well before the actual holiday on October 31st. Santa’s on the roof at Christmas, big bunnies on the lawn for Easter, but some people go ALL OUT on Halloween.

In my own home, Halloween marked the second occasion of the year when we would indulge in decorating. My mom would carefully select a pumpkin, and together, we’d carve it into a grinning or spooky face, proudly displaying it for the evening. I took charge of adorning the front porch, yard, and mailbox with whimsical paper pumpkins, whimsical witches, and friendly ghost decorations, adding a touch of Halloween magic to our surroundings.

Halloween Parties

During the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween had undergone a transformation, evolving into a secular yet community-centered holiday. It was a time when towns and neighborhoods came together to celebrate with a sense of unity and festivity. The hallmark of these celebrations were the lively parades and town-wide Halloween parties that captivated the imaginations of people young and old.

Parades became a vibrant part of the Halloween tradition, where locals would gather to watch creatively themed floats, colorful costumes, and imaginative displays wind their way through the streets. These processions brought communities together, showcasing their creativity and fostering a strong sense of togetherness.

The town-wide Halloween parties were eagerly anticipated events. They served as the centerpiece of the holiday, drawing families and friends to join in on the revelry. These gatherings featured an array of activities and entertainment, including costume contests, apple-bobbing competitions, and spooky storytelling sessions around roaring bonfires. The laughter and camaraderie that filled the air made these parties an essential part of the Halloween experience.

However, despite the best intentions of many schools and communities to maintain the festive spirit of Halloween, a dark cloud began to loom over some of these celebrations. Vandalism became a growing concern, casting a shadow on the otherwise joyous festivities. Mischievous acts of vandalism, such as pumpkin smashing, egging houses, and other destructive pranks, began to plague many communities during this era. These acts tarnished the wholesome essence of Halloween and prompted authorities and local leaders to take measures to curb this unwelcome behavior.

Nonetheless, the resilience of communities and the enduring spirit of Halloween prevailed. While vandalism posed a challenge, it did not completely overshadow the positive aspects of the holiday. People continued to gather for parades and parties, reinforcing the community bonds that had been established over the years.

In essence, the 1920s and 1930s marked a dynamic period in the evolution of Halloween. It was a time of community solidarity, where parades and town-wide celebrations brought people together in the spirit of fun and togetherness. Despite the disruption caused by vandalism, the festive heart of Halloween endured, proving that the holiday was more than just pranks and mischief—it was a celebration of community, creativity, and the thrill of the season.

Halloween Movies

When it comes to commercial success, it’s worth noting that scary Halloween movies have a rich history of dominating the box office. Among the iconic Halloween films, the “Halloween” franchise stands out prominently. This renowned series traces its roots back to the 1978 original film, directed by John Carpenter and featuring an ensemble cast including Donald Pleasance, Nick Castle, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Tony Moran.

In this seminal film, “Halloween,” the chilling tale unfolds as a young boy named Michael Myers commits a horrifying act, murdering his 17-year-old sister. Subsequently, he finds himself incarcerated, only to stage a daring escape during his teenage years, on the very night of Halloween. With a relentless determination, he embarks on a sinister mission to return to his former home and identify a new, unsuspecting target. The suspense and terror that ensue have made this movie an enduring classic, captivating audiences for generations with its spine-tingling narrative.

My dad and sister love scary movies – I hate them. I would sit in my dad’s lap and cover my ears as the loud banging and screams would make me practically jump and run away. Today, I still hate scary movies and haven’t seen a horror movie in decades.

Superstitions and other Traditions

Halloween has perpetually embodied an aura of enigma, enchantment, and superstition. Its origins trace back to a Celtic festival marking the end of summer, during which people believed the veil between the living and the deceased was at its thinnest. In this mystical atmosphere, a profound connection with departed relatives and friends was felt.

To honor these benevolent spirits, intriguing customs were established. At dinner tables, vacant places were thoughtfully set, reserved for the spectral guests. Treats were left on doorsteps and strewn along the roadsides as offerings to wandering spirits. Candles were ignited, their flickering flames meant to guide and illuminate the path for beloved departed souls as they journeyed back to the spirit realm.

These customs, steeped in the blend of mystery and tradition, demonstrate the deep-rooted historical significance of Halloween. However, it’s interesting to note that some Halloween traditions, particularly those that are unique to the United States, have evolved over time to become distinct and celebrated practices in their own right.

Candy Corn

According to some stories, a candymaker at the Wunderlee Candy Company in Philadelphia invented the revolutionary tri-color candy in the 1880s. The treats didn’t become a widespread phenomenon until another company brought the candy to the masses in 1898. At the time, candy corn was called Chicken Feed and sold in boxes with the slogan “Something worth crowing for.” Originally just autumnal candy because of corn’s association with harvest time, candy corn became Halloween-specific when trick-or-treating rose to prominence in the U.S. in the 1950s.

The debate over whether candy corn is a delightful treat or an acquired taste rages on. It’s a topic that tends to divide people into two distinct camps. Personally, I fall firmly into the “love it” category and eagerly anticipate picking up a bag or two of candy corn during the Halloween season.


One of the most iconic aspects of Halloween in America is, of course, dressing up in costumes. Children and adults alike eagerly anticipate selecting and donning their favorite costumes, whether it’s a classic ghost, a wicked witch, a superhero, or a beloved movie character. This tradition allows people to step into the fantastical world of their imagination and temporarily become someone or something else.

With all these ghosts wandering around the Earth during Samhain, the Celts had to get creative to avoid being terrorized by evil spirits. To fake out the ghosts, people would don disguises so they would be mistaken for spirits themselves and left alone.

Pumpkin Everything

Pumpkins and Halloween share an inseparable bond, making these vibrant orange gourds one of the most iconic symbols of the holiday. As the crisp autumn air rolls in and leaves start to change their hues, pumpkins begin to adorn doorsteps and windowsills across the country. Their transformation into jack-o’-lanterns is a cherished tradition, as families and friends gather to carve intricate and spooky faces into their plump, orange canvases. The soft glow emitted from the candles or LED lights placed inside these creations creates an enchanting and eerie ambiance, lighting up the night on Halloween.

Jack-O’-Lanterns, which originated in Ireland using turnips instead of pumpkins, are supposedly based on a legend about a man name Stingy Jack who repeatedly trapped the Devil and only let him go on the condition that Jack would never go to Hell. When he died, however, Jack learned that Heaven didn’t really want his soul either, so he was condemned to wander the Earth as a ghost for all eternity. The Devil gave Jack a lump of burning coal in a carved-out turnip to light his way. Eventually, locals began carving frightening faces into their own gourds to scare off evil spirits.

Beyond their role as decorative lanterns, pumpkins play a central role in Halloween festivities in the form of delicious pumpkin-flavored treats. From pumpkin pies and spiced lattes to pumpkin-shaped cookies and pumpkin soups, these versatile fruits find their way into a wide array of culinary delights, adding a dash of autumn flavor to Halloween feasts. The pumpkin patch visits and pumpkin picking outings that precede these culinary endeavors have become beloved family traditions, allowing children to carefully select the perfect pumpkin to take home and transform into a spooky masterpiece. Thus, pumpkins are not just symbolic of Halloween; they’re an essential ingredient in the seasonal celebration, infusing warmth, flavor, and creativity into the holiday.

Indeed, when it comes to pumpkins, there are two distinct types that serve specific purposes: carving pumpkins and eating pumpkins. These two varieties not only differ in appearance but also in taste and texture, making them well-suited for their respective roles in Halloween festivities and culinary delights.

Carving pumpkins, also known as Jack-o’-lantern pumpkins, are typically larger in size and have a thicker, more rigid skin. They are primarily grown for their suitability in carving intricate designs and spooky faces during the Halloween season. Their large, hollow interior makes it easy to scoop out the pulp and seeds to create the perfect canvas for crafting a lantern that will light up the night. While carving pumpkins aren’t typically chosen for their flavor, their seeds can be roasted into a tasty snack, adding a touch of savory delight to the pumpkin carving tradition.

On the other hand, eating pumpkins, often referred to as sugar or pie pumpkins, are smaller and more manageable in size compared to their carving counterparts. These pumpkins have a tender, sweet flesh that is perfect for culinary creations. Their smooth texture and rich flavor make them the preferred choice for making classic autumn dishes like pumpkin pies, soups, and roasted pumpkin cubes. The flesh of eating pumpkins is often deeper in color and sweeter in taste, making them an essential ingredient in many beloved fall recipes. So, while carving pumpkins take center stage in Halloween decor, eating pumpkins steal the show in the kitchen, contributing to the delectable flavors of the season.

Black Cats

The association of black cats and spookiness actually dates all the way back to the Middle Ages, when these dark kitties were considered a symbol of the Devil. It didn’t help the felines’ reputations when, centuries later, accused witches were often found to have cats, especially black ones, as companions. People started believing that the cats were a witch’s “familiar”—animals that gave them an assist with their dark magic—and the two have been linked ever since.

Currently, I am the proud owner of two entirely black cats, and I take great pleasure in lifting the window blinds to let in the daylight, allowing the cheerful sounds of children’s laughter to filter into the room. Their joy is evident as they excitedly point towards Nico and Ka’iulani, my two feline companions with jet-black fur. Regrettably, despite their striking appearance, both of my cats tend to be rather shy and skittish, often darting away to seek refuge and conceal themselves when confronted by the exuberant commotion.


Celtic people believed that during the festival Samhain, which marked the transition to the new year at the end of the harvest and beginning of the winter, spirits walked the Earth. Later, the introduction of All Souls Day on November 2 by Christian missionaries perpetuated the idea of a mingling between the living and the dead around the same time of year.

Ghosts and Halloween share an eerie and enchanting connection that has deep roots in folklore and tradition. Halloween, with its origins in ancient Celtic celebrations like Samhain, was believed to be a time when the veil between the living and the spirit world grew thin. It was thought that on this night, ghosts and other supernatural entities could more easily traverse the mortal realm. This belief has given rise to the timeless tradition of dressing up as ghosts and other spectral figures during Halloween festivities. As children and adults don ghostly costumes, it’s a nod to this age-old belief and a way to embrace the mysterious, ethereal side of the holiday. Whether it’s for playful scares or a deeper connection to the supernatural, ghosts continue to be an integral part of Halloween’s haunting allure.

Black and Orange

The classic Halloween colors can also trace their origins back to the Celtic festival Samhain. Black represented the “death” of summer while orange is emblematic of the autumn harvest season.

The association between black, orange, and Halloween is an iconic and visually striking combination that has become synonymous with the holiday. Black, symbolizing darkness, mystery, and the unknown, embodies the spooky and eerie aspects of Halloween. It conjures images of witches’ hats, haunted shadows, and the night that Halloween comes alive. In contrast, orange represents the vibrant colors of autumn, from the falling leaves to the harvest season. It symbolizes warmth and the cozy feeling of gathering around the bonfire or sipping on hot apple cider during crisp October nights.

Together, black and orange create a captivating and harmonious contrast, perfectly capturing the essence of Halloween: a celebration that blends the mysterious and the festive, the eerie and the comforting, into one enchanting holiday palette.


Bats and Halloween share an intriguing and somewhat spooky connection that adds to the mystique of the holiday. These nocturnal creatures, often associated with the darkness of the night, have become iconic symbols of Halloween. Whether they’re depicted as eerie silhouettes against the moonlit sky or as part of haunting decorations, bats lend an air of mystery and gothic charm to the festivities. The image of a bat in flight, with its wings outstretched, conjures thoughts of creatures that dwell in the shadows, perfectly fitting the ambiance of Halloween. As symbols of both fear and fascination, bats contribute to the captivating and enigmatic aura that surrounds this beloved holiday, making them an essential part of Halloween’s haunting allure.

It’s likely that bats were present at the earliest celebrations of proto-Halloween, not just symbolically but literally. As part of Samhain, the Celts lit large bonfires, which attracted insects. The insects, in turn, attracted bats, which soon became associated with the festival. Medieval folklore expanded upon the spooky connotation of bats with a number of superstitions built around the idea that bats were the harbingers of death.


As a phenomenon that often varies by region, the pre-Halloween tradition, also known as “Devil’s Night”, is credited with a different origin depending on whom you ask. Some sources say that pranks were originally part of May Day celebrations. But Samhain, and eventually All Souls Day, seem to have included good-natured mischief. When Scottish and Irish immigrants came to America, they brought along the tradition of celebrating Mischief Night as part of Halloween, which was great for candy-fueled pranksters.

Pranking homes during various occasions, especially on Halloween, is a tradition that has evolved over the years. Two common and somewhat mischievous methods used for such pranks are toilet papering and egging.

Toilet papering, also known as “TP-ing,” involves covering a home or yard with rolls of toilet paper. It’s a playful but often messy act where pranksters use the soft, white paper to drape trees, bushes, and even the exterior of the house itself. The result is a surreal landscape of fluttering toilet paper streamers that can be both visually striking and a bit of a nuisance for homeowners to clean up. This harmless prank is typically done in good fun, and it’s a way for friends or neighbors to engage in some light-hearted mischief during the Halloween season.

Egging, on the other hand, is a more notorious and potentially destructive prank. In this case, pranksters throw eggs at a home or other targets, leaving behind a gooey mess that can be difficult to clean and may even cause damage to paint or surfaces. While it can be seen as a less innocent form of mischief compared to toilet papering, egging is important to note as a negative aspect of some Halloween traditions. It’s crucial for individuals to understand the line between harmless fun and actions that can lead to harm or vandalism.

In both cases, the intent behind these pranks can range from light-hearted amusement to causing mild inconvenience. However, it’s essential to remember that pranks should never cross the line into causing harm or distress to others or their property. Halloween is a time for enjoyment, spooky fun, and creating positive memories, and pranks should be conducted with this spirit in mind, ensuring that they remain harmless and respectful of others.


The act of going door-to-door for handouts has long been a part of Halloween celebrations. But until the middle of the 20th century, the “treats” kids received were not necessarily candy. Toys, coins, fruit, and nuts were just as likely to be given out. The rise in the popularity of trick-or-treating in the 1950s inspired candy companies to make a marketing push with small, individually wrapped confections. People obliged out of convenience, but candy didn’t dominate at the exclusion of all other treats until parents started fearing anything unwrapped in the 1970s.

Candy and Halloween share an irresistible and time-honored connection that makes this holiday especially sweet. For children and adults alike, one of the most anticipated aspects of Halloween is the bountiful array of candy. Trick-or-treating, the quintessential Halloween activity, involves young witches, superheroes, and goblins visiting door to door, eagerly collecting a treasure trove of candies in their vibrant bags and buckets. From chocolate bars and candy corn to gummy worms and lollipops, Halloween offers a delightful excuse to indulge in an array of sugary delights. The joy of sorting and trading candies with friends, savoring the familiar flavors, and discovering new treats creates cherished memories that define the essence of Halloween, making it a holiday that truly satisfies the sweet tooth in us all.

It was quite typical for me, after a thrilling evening of trick-or-treating, to return home with a noticeable dent in my candy stash. In fact, it wasn’t unusual for a few, or sometimes even more than a few, pieces of candy to mysteriously vanish during the adventure. The excitement of Halloween, the thrill of discovering treats at each doorstep, and the camaraderie with friends often led to some impromptu candy sampling along the way. The temptation was simply too strong to resist, and the tantalizing aroma of chocolates, candies, and sweets would sometimes prove irresistible, prompting a quick nibble or two before the official candy count even began.

Coming home with a partially depleted candy haul was, in a way, a testament to the enchantment of Halloween itself. It was a night filled with anticipation, and the treats were as much a part of the experience as the costumes and decorations. Over time, I learned the art of balancing the joy of sampling a few candies with the excitement of having a well-preserved collection to savor in the days and weeks that followed, extending the delight of Halloween long after the spooky night itself had passed.

Caramel and Candy Apples

People have been coating fruit in sugar syrups as a means of preservation for centuries. Since the development of the Roman festival of Pomona, the goddess often represented by and associated with apples, the fruit has had a place in harvest celebrations. But the first mention of candy apples being given out at Halloween didn’t occur until the 1950s.

Caramel and candy apples are quintessential fall treats that perfectly capture the flavors and spirit of the season. Caramel apples feature crisp, tart apples, typically Granny Smith or similar varieties, coated in a luscious layer of smooth, buttery caramel. The contrast between the sweet, chewy caramel and the tangy apple creates a delectable harmony of flavors and textures. These treats are often adorned with additional toppings, such as crushed nuts, sprinkles, or chocolate drizzles, adding both visual appeal and extra layers of taste to the indulgence. Caramel apples have become a cherished part of autumn fairs, festivals, and, of course, Halloween celebrations, where they offer a delightful blend of nostalgia and culinary delight.

On the other hand, candy apples feature a glossy, hard candy coating that shatters into a satisfying crunch when bitten into. They are equally tantalizing, offering a sugary sweetness that complements the apple’s natural juiciness. The vibrant red or other colorful coatings make candy apples visually striking and instantly recognizable. Like caramel apples, they are often embellished with various toppings, ranging from colorful sprinkles to miniature candies, enhancing the overall taste and presentation. Candy apples are a delightful and enduring treat, enjoyed at fall events, carnivals, and as a nostalgic part of Halloween traditions.

Both caramel and candy apples bring a sense of nostalgia and warmth to the fall season, reminding us of crisp autumn days, Halloween festivities, and the simple joys of savoring delicious, handcrafted treats. Their irresistible combination of sweet coatings and fresh apples provides a delightful contrast of flavors and textures that embodies the essence of autumn.

Luckily, today you don’t have to wait until Halloween to buy candy or caramel apples. You can often find the ingredients to make them in many large chain grocery stores. There are also businesses that focus solely on selling this delicious treats either online or in a store.

Bobbing for Apples

Bobbing for apples is a cherished and time-honored autumn tradition that brings a playful and festive spirit to gatherings and Halloween parties. This classic game involves filling a large tub or basin with water and floating apples in it. Participants, usually blindfolded, take turns trying to catch an apple with their teeth while their hands are tied behind their backs. It’s a delightful spectacle, filled with laughter and excitement as participants bob and lunge to seize the elusive apples. The game’s origins can be traced back to ancient Celtic customs, where it was believed that successfully capturing an apple symbolized good fortune and even a glimpse into one’s romantic destiny. Bobbing for apples continues to be a fun and wholesome activity that adds a touch of tradition and merriment to autumn gatherings, creating enduring memories and connecting generations.

This game traces its origins to a courting ritual that was part of a Roman festival honoring Pomona, the goddess of agriculture and abundance. Multiple variations existed, but the gist was that young men and women would be able to foretell their future relationships based on the game. When the Romans conquered the British Isles, the Pomona festival was blended with the similarly timed Samhain, a precursor to Halloween.

Halloween Music

Besides Christmas, there isn’t another holiday that has its own music. You hear the song and you know immediately it is a Halloween song. The most famous is the “Monster Mash” – Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers.

There are some other great ones including

  •  “This Is Halloween” – Marilyn Manson
  • “Dead Man’s Party” – Oingo Boingo
  • “Zombie” – The Cranberries
  • “A Nightmare on My Street” – DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
  • “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” – The Charlie Daniels Band
  • “Time Warp” – The Rocky Horror Picture Show
  • “Halloween (Theme)” – John Carpenter
  • “Werewolves of London” – Warren Zevon
  • “Somebody’s Watching Me” – Rockwell
  • “Ghostbusters” – Ray Parker Jr. 
  • “Thriller” – Michael Jackson

Haunted Theme Parks

I have the pleasure of living near a big amusement park, Six Flags over Georgia. Every year, they have Hallowfest. It runs from September to the beginning of November. The employees dress up as zombies, special rides are decked out for this spooky event, and special food is offered.

Other amusement parks to enjoy this tradition include

  • Disney World and Disney Land
  • Universal Studios
  • Busch Gardens
  • Legoland
  • Six Flags St. Louis
  • Hershey Park

Some other off the beaten path locations include

  • Cedar Point
  • Knott’s Berry Farm
  • Sea World
  • Great World Lodge
  • Sea Life Park
  • Kings Island

History of Trick-or-Treating

Trick-or-treating is another beloved Halloween tradition that brings joy to children across the nation. The history of trick-or-treating traces its roots back to ancient Celtic traditions, particularly the festival of Samhain, celebrated over 2,000 years ago in what is now modern-day Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France. During Samhain, which marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter, people believed that the boundary between the living and the dead was blurred, and spirits roamed the Earth. To appease these spirits, Celtic communities left out offerings of food and drink, often on their doorsteps or at the edge of their fields. This practice evolved over time into a custom known as “souling” in medieval Europe, where impoverished individuals, often children, would go door-to-door on All Souls’ Day (November 2nd) and receive food or “soul cakes” in exchange for prayers for the deceased.

Borrowing from European traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition. Young women believed that on Halloween they could divine the name or appearance of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple parings or mirrors.

Trick-or-Treating Today

Today, youngsters, armed with pumpkin-shaped candy buckets or bags, embark on a door-to-door adventure in search of sugary treasures. Neighbors generously dole out candy and treats, and the phrase “trick or treat” becomes a mantra for the night. It’s a wonderful opportunity for communities to come together and for kids to learn valuable lessons about politeness and gratitude.

According to the National Retail Federation, U.S. consumers spent an average of $44 per household in 2002 on Halloween candy, costumes and decorations. Families with young children spent an average of $62. The 2002 holiday brought in about $6.9 billion in sales in the United States.

Halloween continues to be extremely popular with kids of all ages; 85 to 90 percent of U.S. children go trick-or-treating or engage in other Halloween festivities every year, and many adults also join in on the fun. 

Here is a list of does and dont’s when trick-or-treating

  1. Only go to doors with the porch light on. My parents, after I moved out, decided they didn’t want to do trick or treating anymore. They started a new tradition which they would turn out the lights, go to dinner, and sit quietly in their home. By turning off the porch light, a home indicates they are not participating in trick-or-treating. Yet still, many times they still get a doorbell ring, which they would ignore.
  2. Kids – don’t be gready
  3. Adults – don’t be stingy. The worst is going to a home in which a person hands out one mini size snickers bar. What? I had to walk forever to get to your home and that’s all you are going to give me
  4. Go out as soon as it gets dark. The earlier the better. If you have adults that do what is asked of them in #3 you may wait too long and have no houses with candy.
  5. If you find a house with a bucket of candy outside, don’t take it all. With COVID-19 this year, many people are deciding to socially distance
  6. Wear a darn costume
  7. Carry a flash light
  8. Kids shouldn’t go alone
  9. Map out where you will
  10. Adults drive extra slowly
  11. Kids don’t run out into the street
  12. Inspect all candy when you arrive home. I’m not sure how relevant this is these days, but I remember this rule growing up. I would always inspect a piece of
  13. Don’t restrict yourself to age and don’t ask how old they are. The last time I went trick-or-treating I was in my late 20s to early 30s. I was in graduate school and my friend had never been trick or treating (see #14 below). We went out and had a great time. We wore sweatshirts from our schools. When asked what we were, we said, “Broke Grad Students.” No reason to lie.
  14. If are here from another country, don’t believe what you hear about Halloween. I have a very good friend, Tony, who is from Thailand. He arrived here in his mid-20s but never went trick or treating. He was fearful because he heard that Americans would tell foreigners the wrong date and they would get injured at Halloween. Wives tales at best. Go out and enjoy it. It’s an experience unlike anything else.
  15. Share, share, share. No one can eat, nor should they eat, all the candy you got. Be sure to share with your younger or older siblings. Also with your parents. By the time Christmas comes, you’ll want to replace that candy corn with candy canes anyways.

Alternative to Trick-or-Treating: Trunk or Treat

While going to someone’s home and knocking on the door and saying, “Trick or treat” is the most common way to get a bucket load of candy, there are many communities that do trunk-or-treat. This is very common for communities that do not celebrate Halloween, such as religious organizations. But, they still want to honor the spirit of giving candy. Another common reason is the location between homes is too dangerous or too far. In rural areas, you may have to walk a significant distance and on a dark country road to get to the next house.

In this tradition, an organization gets the community to park their car in a location, typically a parking lot. You open the trunk and you distribute the candy to kids walking around.

Boring, you think? Not exactly. Some people go all out and decorate their cars in the spirit of All Hallows Eve.

Dorm Trick-or-Treating

I remember being a freshman at the University of Georgia and staying in Brumby Hall. It is an all-girls dorms. The girls would decorate their doors and welcome anyone who wanted to trick or treat.

I took my nephews there and they got their first taste of southern hospitality. The students had dressed up in cute outfits. They gushed over my nephews telling them how cute they were (who doesn’t like that). My nephews got a ass-load of candy because there are 9 floors of dorm rooms. The best is I got a lot of candy as well, sorry what adult doesn’t steal from their young companions pumpkin bucket.

Most importantly, it was inside and out of the elements and perfect for younger ones, they were 2 and 8 months ago. If you live near a campus with dorms, keep an eye out for announcement of this extra special event.


In conclusion, celebrating Halloween in the United States, particularly in the southern regions, is a time-honored tradition that continues to thrive with each passing year. The allure of this spooky holiday, steeped in history and embraced by communities across the nation, transcends generations. In the South, where the weather often remains mild, even if a chill creeps in during the evenings, Halloween is an occasion that brings people together to revel in the spirit of fun and camaraderie. Whether it’s the colorful costumes, creative decorations, or the joy of sharing treats with neighbors, Halloween in the US, especially in the South, is a cherished tradition that bridges the gap between the past and the present, ensuring that the spirit of this enchanting holiday endures for generations to come.