Holiday Insight: Halloween
Halloween is one of the most popular and colorful holidays in the world, particularly for children, though also for many adults. Each year on Halloween, people dress in costumes and go from door to door in search of treats. This custom is, of course, known as "trick or treating." The idea is that children who visit neighbors' homes on Halloween threaten to play a trick on anyone who does not give them a treat.
History of Halloween
Halloween has its origins in centuries-old pagan holidays that honored the dead. Of these, the Celtic celebration of Samhain is thought to be the pagan holiday with the strongest influence on the modern celebration of Halloween. On this night, people would leave gifts and treats outside for the spirits, believing that in return for the gifts and treats, the spirits would ensure a good harvest of crops for the coming year.
Other traditions associated with Halloween are also based on superstitions surrounding the supernatural. Traditional Halloween costumes such as witches, werewolves, ghosts and goblins are associated with supernatural beings, and creatures that symbolize bad luck are also common Halloween symbols.
The name Halloween originated with the Christian celebration of All Saints Day on November 1st. When the Romans conquered the Celts, October 31st, the eve of All Saints Day, became known as Hallows Eve, and, eventually Halloween.
Date of Celebration
Halloween is celebrated as a major holiday mainly in the United States and Canada, though several other countries do recognize the day with simple rituals, such as lighting candles on Halloween night to honor the dead.
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