Jack-o’-lanterns have been symbols of Halloween in the U.S. since the late 19th century. Based on legends tracing back to Europe, a man named Jack tricks the Devil in unscrupulous ways that prevent Jack from going to Heaven which also infuriates the Devil, who refuses to carry Jack’s soul to hell. With nowhere to go after he dies, Jack forever wanders the earth with a lantern made from a hollowed-out turnip lit by an ember from the fires of hell, a fate that earns him the name Jack of the Lantern. In North America, native pumpkins proved to be a more fitting medium for carving.
Although Halloween itself is now largely a non-religious celebration, it grew out of All Hallows’ Eve, which is the night before All Saints’ Day, an early Christian observance still widely celebrated today. By the 1500s, All Hallows’ Eve a name eventually shortened to Halloween was celebrated in the British Isles on October 31 amid bonfires, costumes, and revelry. Brought to North America by immigrants from Ireland and Scotland, Halloween became a distinctively American celebration. After World War II, trick-or-treating gave Halloween a youthful emphasis, but since the 1970s adults have joined in once again.
The first-day site, Anoka is known as the Halloween Capital of the World because it hosted one of the first Halloween parades in 1920, and still holds several Halloween parades.