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Ask any kid what their favorite days of the year are and odds are high their answer will include Halloween. Really, what is not to like about a day when you get to dress in costume, stay up late, and people shower you with free candy? In case you did not remember, that day is almost here—Friday is Halloween.

10262014_4Halloween is not a holiday. Still, Halloween makes many people very happy, even giddy. (This also could be the sugar high.) In other situations, dressing in disguise and parading door-to-door with a crowd of people might lead to a de-individualized mob. On most nights, ghosts and monsters would terrify many young children. But, on Halloween, only the friendly ghosts and the mannerly monsters come out for a community celebration featuring free candy and our imaginations.

What are the origins of this celebration? Why is Halloween important? Which costumes are trending this year? Exactly how much candy are we talking? How can you make it a safe night? Treat yourself to the answers.

The History of Halloween—

The roots of Halloween extend to an ancient Celtic festival of the dead. The Library of Congress explains how and what that holiday, Samhain, celebrated and how Christian missionaries changed it.

10262014_1Today, Halloween would not be the same without masks, Jack-o’-lanters, pumpkins, costumes, candy corn, and of course, trick or treating. There is a story behind each of these Halloween customs. Discover the history of masks. Then, unveil the backstory for the remaining five Halloween traditions.

Halloween, 2014—

10262014_3Popular costumes often come from pop-culture—movies, books, television shows, music, people (famous and infamous), even current events. Revisit how pop culture has influenced costumes over the past thirty years. Do you know what you will be for Halloween this year? What pop culture trends will you find at your door? Expect a visit from Elsa and Anna. Perhaps someone in an Ebola haz-mat suit or a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle will visit you too.

Your friends are not the only ones who care if you’ll dress up on Friday. The retail industry is paying attention too. Halloween may not incite the frenzied spending that Christmas does, but millions are spent on candy, decorations, and costumes. Read more about Halloween’s impact on the economy and the spending trends this year.

Trick or Treat—

10262014_2Collecting a bucket (or pillowcase) of candy is just one part of the sugar-saturated fun. After, there’s the sorting and trading. Which candies do you want more of and which will you trade to your brother? Which candy do you need to protect from your parents’ late-night raids? Check out the sweet truth about popular candies and urban myths.

Of course, what makes a candy ‘best’ or ‘worst’ is open to debate. Dentists have their own criteria. Follow the two trails of images to see which candies are best and worst for your teeth. Some dentists offer buy-back programs on November 1st. True: they will buy your candy for approximately $1 per pound.  If you are interested, find a participating dentist near you.

Have Fun, Stay Safe—

10262014_5Like all things, Halloween is only fun if everyone stays safe. Halloween presents several challenges: hordes of children wearing dark clothes and masks that obstruct their view crossing streets at night and eagerly running to houses. Count the ways this can go wrong. This year, make sure your costume is a safe one. When you are out on Halloween, make sure you are being a safe driver or pedestrian.

Halloween safety applies to carving pumpkins too. Pumpkin carving has been the cause of the majority of Halloween-related injuries. If you carve a pumpkin, be sure to place your pumpkin on a stable base, to cut away from yourself, and to use appropriate tools.