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Halloween is a celebration on the night of October 31. It is most celebrated in the United States and Canada. Children wear costumes and go to people's homes saying "Trick or treat!" to ask for candy (sweets in the UK) and people give it to them. The suggestion is: "Give me a treat or I will play a trick on you." People often dress up as ghosts, witches, or other scary things for Halloween.
For Christians it is the eve of All Saints' Day, which begins the three-day observance of Allhallowtide. This covers the three days – October 31 (All-Hallows Eve or Hallowe'en), November 1 (All Saints) and November 2 (All Souls). All Hallows' Eve is a Christianized feast influenced by Celtic harvest festivals, and pagan roots.
The pagan holiday Samhain, which the All Saints holy day replaced, was also known as the Day of the Dead. Samhain was ancient Celtic festival celebrated over 2,000 years ago. Samhain happened the day before what was at the time their New Year which fell on November 1st. This time of year was associated with the end of Summer and the start of dark, cold winters. These tough times also made people think more about death. On the October 31st, the night before their New Years, they believed that the ghosts of the dead would return to earth. The Celtics would wear costumes and light fires to fend off the ghosts. The tradition of wearing costumes and lighting things with fire (Jackolantern) still carries on today. Many wiccans and modern pagans celebrate the Day of the Dead. This is a happy holiday (even though it celebrates death). It is the day that some believed the souls of dead people come back to Earth.
Trick or Treating
The origins of trick or treating come from Europe. In England, people practiced the Christian custom of souling on Halloween. A groups of soulers, both Protestant and Catholic, would go from parish to parish and beg the rich for soul cakes, which were small round cakes made for All Hallows' Eve to commemorate the dead. This eventually made its way to modern day Halloween where trick or treaters would ask for candy or money.
During Halloween some people wear a costume. People have worn costumes at Halloween for centuries. Wearing a costume may come from Celtic festivals of Samhain and Calan Gaeaf. It could also be from the Christian Allhallowtide.
Early costumes were usually scary. They were often supernatural beings or from folklore. In the 1930s costumes of characters from literature, radio, or movies became popular. Scary costumes are still popular.
- Rogers, Nicholas (2003). Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night. Oxford University Press. p. 22. . https://books.google.com/?id=stWZ_UDteMIC&pg=PA22.
- "Halloween 2019". https://www.history.com/topics/halloween/history-of-halloween'.