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October 24, 2006 > Halloween

Halloween

by Brenda Cavallaro

Nothing on Earth can be so beautiful as the final haul on Halloween night.
 - Steve Almond

Known at first glance of spooky and charming decorations, both welcoming and warning others at the same time, Halloween is the night that little ghouls and goblins or Batmans and princesses set out to fill up their bags with candy. At least, that's the modern twist on the ancient history of this holiday.

Halloween actually dates back more than 2,000 years ago, beginning with the Celts who lived in the area now known as Great Britain and Northern France. They celebrated the beauty of nature and were polytheistic, worshiping the Sun God half of the year as well as Samhain, Lord of the Dead in the winter season. Samhain would call the dead to rise and wander the Earth as animal forms on the first day of his reign.

Romans eventually conquered the Celts and Halloween went through both minor and major changes throughout the years; Romans pared up Halloween with witchcraft, but today's holiday is full of friendly spirits and lots of candy with little resemblance to ancient traditions.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in the United States, the first official citywide Halloween celebration occurred in Anoka, Minn., in 1921. Below are some fun facts from the Census Bureau.

Trick or Treat- 36.1 million
The estimated number of potential "trick-or-treaters" in 2005, ages 5- to 13, across the United States, declined by 284,000 from 2004. Of course, many other children older than 13 and younger than age 5 also go trick-or-treating.

Jack O' Lanterns and Pumpkin Pies- 1.1 billion pounds
Total production of major pumpkin-producing states in 2005. Illinois led the country by producing 497 million pounds of the vined orange gourd. Pumpkin patches in California, Ohio and Pennsylvania also provided lots of pumpkins: each state produced at least 100 million pounds. The value of all pumpkins produced by major pumpkin-producing states was $106 million.

26 pounds
Per capita consumption of candy by Americans in 2005; it is believed a large portion is consumed around Halloween.

108 million
Number of occupied housing units across the nation - all potential stops for "trick-or-treaters."

Candy and Costumes- 1,241
Number of U.S. manufacturing establishments that produced chocolate and cocoa products in 2004, employing 43,322 people and shipping $12.5 billion worth of goods. California led the nation in the number of chocolate and cocoa manufacturing establishments, with 136, followed by Pennsylvania, with 122.

 
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