Today, Halloween is big business with nearly 10 billion dollars expected to be spent on decorations, candy and costumes in 2022. But for those in their senior years, Halloween was a very different holiday in their youth. How has Halloween changed? What are some of the Halloween memories of today's seniors?
American colonists celebrated the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, with fall festivals honoring the harvest. The Roman goddess of fruit and trees, Pomona, is thought to be the origin of bobbing for apples on Halloween. That term Halloween comes from the Catholic Church as a variation on “All Hallows Eve”, since November 1 was “All Hallows Day” or “All Saints Day”. In New Mexico, many communities still recognize November 1st as All Saints Day (or Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead) a holiday to honor departed family members and keep their memories alive.
Elders today in their 70s and above likely had very different Halloween festivities than today’s youth. In the early 20th Century, children traded songs for treats on October 31st. On October 30, 1938, Orson Welles’s radio program, War of the Worlds”, is said to have created mass panic in listeners who believed the live play’s drama of a Martian invasion.
During World War II, the sugar rationing meant very little candy could be produced. Parties or parades were common in the 1940s and 1950s with bobbing for apples, games, and costumes of ghosts and witches. Trick or treating wasn’t widely known across the United States until the comic strip, Peanuts, depicted Charlie Brown and the other characters going door to door in a 1951 cartoon.
Halloween and the coming of fall are opportunities to share memories with your elderly family member and preserve those recollections.
Here are a few questions to start the conversation:
- What did your family do to celebrate Halloween?
- Did you dress in costumes? Did you make them or purchase them?
- Do you remember any scary movies when you were a child?
- What do you remember about candy? Did your family make some? Was there sugar for candy?
- Were there favorite fall foods that you had during October?
- Did you carve a pumpkin? Were pumpkins grown in a garden or purchased from a store?
- Was Halloween celebrated in your school?
- Was Dia de los Muertas celebrated in your area?
- What other memories of Halloween do you have?
Our seniors’ memories are an integral part of every family’s history. At BeeHive Homes, we work to provide homelike, small group assisted living homes across New Mexico. When your aging family member is no longer able to live in their own home, an assisted living home offers personal care, meal preparation, medication management, as well as caregivers who are dedicated to our residents, just as if they were a personal family member. If we can be of help to you in this season of life for your parent, spouse or other loved one, please give us a call.