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There is "Season's greetings" or "Merry Christmas" for Christmas. But is there something for Halloween? "Happy Halloween" just does not sound right to me because of the contrast between "happy" and the "pseudo-horrifying" nature of Halloween. And neither does wishing a "horrifying Halloween" seem appropriate. (I'm neither a native speaker nor located in a country with English as common speech.)

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Isn't the greeting "Trick or treat!"? :-) –  starblue Oct 31 '11 at 13:36

6 Answers 6

up vote 38 down vote accepted

Americans routinely say "Happy Halloween", as incongruous as it may be. Actually, if the day was really horrifying, we wouldn't be celebrating it: We'd be cowering in our basements. It's more a day to make light of supernatural evil than to be frightened by it.

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I've also heard that Halloween started in the 1800's in Ireland as a way for poor Irish peasants to get back at the rich landowners. This could also be the origination of "Trick or Treat". –  bakoyaro Nov 1 '11 at 13:18
    
In most places this is true. However, when I worked in Camden, NJ my company shut down early on Oct 31'st so that all employees had plenty of time to out of downtown before dark. –  T.E.D. Nov 1 '11 at 14:52
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@TED: If I worked in New Jersey, I'd want to get off early enough to be home before dark every day. :-) –  Jay Nov 2 '11 at 7:03

Happy Halloween is the greeting because Halloween generally supposed to be a fun holiday. In fact, it is not a true holiday, and you don't have to acknowledge it.

Greetings like "Seasons Greetings" exist to not mention Christmas specifically, because that is noninclusive of non-Christians.

In the U.S., you say "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Christmas" but that is an anomaly I can't explain. All other holidays and occasions are greeted "Happy __".

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"Happy Ramadan" doesn't seem entirely appropriate for a holiday celebrated by fasting and somber reflection. Do Moslems have a greeting for this? –  Jay Nov 1 '11 at 16:41
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answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070928115248AAq63oo "RAMADAN MUBARAK" and at the end "Eid Mubarak" –  Joe Nov 1 '11 at 17:01

I tend to agree that "happy" isn't right, but don't forget that you're filtering it though eyes indoctrinated into a specific meaning for Halloween.

In some cultures (and under different names), it's about celebrating those loved ones that have died; in others, it's to ward their sprites away. In still other similar customs, it's not related to death at all.

However, in northern latitudes, its origin is most definitely related to the cycle of the year—in this time of year, crops are harvested and food packed away for the winter. The whole concept of the relation of death and rebirth (which even Christians have) is pretty universal.

Here is a link that is a little more inclusive than the Wikipedia article (which still seems a bit one sided and pedantic).

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No, there is no greeting or farewell saying for Halloween.

Just because of its superficial cultural similarities with Christmas (you get a bunch of stuff that you like), it is not a literal holiday and the cultural practices surrounding it are not about wishing someone well or warding off evil. It is just a bunch of kids running around getting free candy.

There are some language patterns (like 'trick or treat') but that's about it.

Of course, it is becoming more and more popular to have 'Happy Halloween' on banners and advertisements and such, but people just do not walk down the street or burst into a room joyfully proclaiming 'Happy Halloween!'. It's just not on people's minds to have something like that to say, and there's no longstanding tradition for anything (Halloween being a minor cultural addition to All Saints' Day in the Christian calendar).

Some might object to the negative answer, the recognition of a lexical gap, _plus) the desire to have it filled. But consider analogously (in the Christian cultural area) asking the question "What greeting does one use for Good Friday?". There is none. It's not necessary to have one.

So for Halloween, do not feel obligated to try to use any special greeting. Greeting-wise, there's nothing special you need to learn to say (of course unless you're a kid and knocking on someone's door at 7pm, and then, not really a greeting but a request/threat).

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+1. It would be like "Merry Christmas Eve" or "Happy New Year's Eve". –  Lee Kowalkowski Nov 2 '11 at 11:28
    
I have indeed witnessed folks marching around and proclaiming "Happy Halloween", particularly while in costume. While I agree that it does not have the same standing as Christmas or New Years, I hear it too much (from cashiers, advertisements, or random well-wishers) to agree with the assertion that it is not "season's greeting". –  Lynn Nov 2 '11 at 19:46
    
@Lynn: I stand corrected. I checked GoogleNngrams with "Happy Halloween" which shows that it was relatively unknown (but with some rare instances) before 1950, and has increased in use very quickly since the 1980's. I will curmudgeonly state that it -shouldn't- be a greeting and maintain without any corroborating data that it does not follow the same greeting pattern as "Merry Christmas" (you don't naturally or often use Happy Halloween to greet someone personally). –  Mitch Nov 2 '11 at 20:42
    
A century ago, sending Halloween greetings was not uncommon - including an occasional exhortation for a "Happy Halloween." Nowadays, these cards fetch a pretty penny. Halloween has been commercialized today, but it's interesting to think about how it was a celebrated holiday in the early 1900s, when well-wishing seasonal greetings were relatively standard fare. –  J.R. Feb 27 '12 at 0:44

There is always the simple and appropriate (and very scary)

Boo!

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Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh! –  Dason Oct 31 '11 at 18:19

I've heard "Happy Halloween" on many occasions. Doesn't really strike me as odd.

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+1. Happy Halloween is the standard greeting around here. –  Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Oct 31 '11 at 12:44
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How about: "Boo!" –  GEdgar Oct 31 '11 at 13:27
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How about "A Haunted Halloween." –  Mark Oct 31 '11 at 13:33
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"Happy Halloween" is the standard here, but I do find it odd - I expect Halloween to be scary... (But nothing else I've heard sounds "right") –  Izkata Oct 31 '11 at 13:47
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@XenElement: Halloween today is mostly scary to diabetics. –  Jay Oct 31 '11 at 21:15

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