Do Americans actually like Halloween?

Jamie BallardData Journalist
October 25, 2021, 4:15 PM UTC

With Halloween nearly here, YouGov asked Americans about their feelings on Halloween, trick-or-treaters, and their costume plans.

In a new YouGov survey of 1,000 American adult citizens, almost one-quarter of people (23%) say Halloween is one of their favorite holidays. Younger adults tend to be more into Halloween than older Americans are. Americans under age 45 are a little more likely than 45- to 64-year-olds (22%) to say Halloween is one of their favorite holidays. Among Americans who are 65 and older, just 11% say this is one of their favorite holidays.

There are also differences when it comes to race. White Americans (27%) are much more likely than Black Americans (6%) to say Halloween is one of their favorite holidays. Conversely, 19% of Black Americans and just 7% of White Americans say they refuse to celebrate Halloween.

Two in five Americans say they like Halloween, but it isn’t one of their favorite holidays. About one in five say they don’t really like Halloween, and 10% say they outright refuse to celebrate it.

How does Halloween stack up to other holidays?

Although about one-quarter of Americans say Halloween is one of their favorite holidays, when people are asked to compare it to other major holidays, they usually say they prefer the other one. The exception: Valentine’s Day. Almost half of Americans (47%) say they like Halloween more than they like Valentine’s Day, while 36% disagree. New Year’s Eve beats Halloween head-to-head, while the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas all win by big margins. 

Young Americans are more likely to prefer Halloween to other major holidays. Among 18- to 29-year-olds, 39% prefer Halloween to 4th of July, while 35% disagree. Halloween also fares better against New Year’s Eve among younger Americans: 43% of under-30s prefer Halloween to New Year’s Eve, about as many (42%)  prefer New Year’s Eve. Thanksgiving narrowly wins out in this group, while Christmas remains an overwhelming favorite.

Democrats and Republicans tend to have similar views about Halloween vs. other holidays, save for the Fourth of July. The share of Democrats (32%) who prefer Halloween to the Fourth of July is more than twice the share of Republicans (15%). 

How Americans feel about trick-or-treating

Good news, kids: Most American adults (63%) say that when children trick-or-treat at their house, they’ll likely give the kids some candy. But about one in five adults (21%) will pretend not to be home.

About one in four Americans say children can never be too old to go trick-or-treating. But about one in eight (12%) think children become too old to go trick-or-treating at age 12. Another 11% will give kids an additional year of trick-or-treating. Another 8% say it’s OK to trick-or-treat until age 14 and 7% think a child becomes too old for trick-or-treating at age 15. 

The younger an adult is, the more likely they are to say a child should never be considered too old to go trick-or-treating. Among 18- to 29-year-olds, 41% say children or teens should never be considered too old to go trick-or-treating. A similar percentage (37%) of 30- to 44-year-olds agree, but far fewer 45- to 64-year-olds (17%) and Americans 65 and older (14%) agree. 

How many Americans will be wearing Halloween costumes this year?

When surveyed in early October, just 8% of Americans said they had a Halloween costume planned for this year. Another 10% said that while they hadn’t planned a costume yet, they intended to wear one.

American adults under 30 are more likely than older Americans to have costume plans this year, with 10% saying they already had one picked out and 23% saying they hadn’t picked one yet but planned to wear one. Those figures are just 4% and 4% for both 45- to-64-year-olds and people 65 and older.

See the toplines and crosstabs from this YouGov poll

Related: Two in five Americans say ghosts exist — and one in five say they've encountered one

Methodology: 1,000 U.S. citizens, aged 18 and over, were surveyed for this poll on October 8 - 12, 2021. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in Internet panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2018 American Community Study. Voter registration was imputed from the November 2018 Current Population Survey Registration and Voting Supplement. The sample was weighted based on gender, age, race, education, news interest, and 2020 Presidential vote (or non-vote). The margin of error for the entire sample is approximately 4%.

Image: Photo by Daisy Anderson from Pexels