Halloween and the full moon

In 2020 the full moon will fall on a 31st October and a Halloween party can take place in the full moon light. The imagination of people fits this well apparently, because no matter where you look, the full moon can be seen in all portrayals of Halloween. In historical terms, there is no connection, however. Halloween is the evening before All Saints’ Day (originally: »All Hallows’ Eve«). The basic idea of this festival is the remembrance of saints and it is connected to the wish to drive out bad spirits. This is how the gruesome costumes came into play.

Halloween originally derives from Ireland and was brought to America by the settlers in the 19th century, where it is celebrated most predominantly today. During the course of the years, the deeper meaning got lost and the show effect stepped into the foreground. Therefore, it is quite natural that the full moon is near at hand. Let’s choose two prominent examples from movies of different genres:

In »The Nightmare Before Christmas« by Tim Burton (1993), the bizarre animation about Jack Skellington – a skeleton in a pinstripe suit – that experiences all sorts of craziness around the freaky Halloween party of Halloween town, the full moon cannot only be seen on many posters, it is also part of the famous song »This is Halloween«:

There you see (at 2:33 min.) the shadow on the full moon who sings:

»I am the shadow on the moon at night
Filling your dreams to the brim with fright.«

Of a different caliber is the horror movie »Halloween« by John Carpenter (1978), which is about a cruel series of killings around Halloween. Here, it becomes apparent how the full moon is also used as method when it’s all about the portrayal of fear and terror. And although, the screenplay of the movie explicitly mentions the full moon (»Through the blowing trees we see the full moon rising in the night sky.«), the moon is not to be seen in the movie, but only a bluish light. Interestingly enough, in the year 1963 – in which the story take places – there was indeed no full moon at Halloween and it only occurred in the years of 1955 and 1974.

These examples show that the full moon is stereotyped to create a mystical, romantic or also frightening atmosphere: a backdrop for the many scenes of human fantasy … the Moon will observe all of this with composure.


  1. FULL MOON ON HALLOWEEN | 2 November 2012

    Halloween has not had a Full Moon in the Central Time Zone of the USA since 1955. It has been Close and in full moon phase, but not officially a full moon.

    • Jörg & Pat | 2 November 2012

      This is true – the October full moon 1974 only has been on the 31st in Europe and Asia. But: It was still nearly full in the USA 😉

  2. Alkaline | 28 September 2012

    This year the full moon falls on OCT 29… and we will feel it on OCT 31st for sure! It still has meaning when it’s 2 days before or after… look it up.

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