Halloween (or Hallowe’en ... but also known as Samhain, Summer’s End, All Hallow’s Eve, Witches Night, Lamswool, and Snap-Apple), is a holiday that's celebrated annually on the night of October 31. It originated in Ireland, and is celebrated in quite a few countries including Ireland itself, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Sweden among others. It's celebrated in a variety of ways and activities including trick-or-treating, ghost tours, bonfires, costume parties, "haunted house" tours, carving pumpkins (Jack-o'-lanterns) and reading / watching scary stories / movies.
History of Halloween
Halloween (or Hallowe’en ... but also known as Samhain, Summer’s End, All Hallow’s Eve, Witches Night, Lamswool, and Snap-Apple), is a holiday that's celebrated annually on the night of October 31. It originated in Ireland, and is said to be among the world’s oldest holidays. The simple history of Halloween - it has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain (celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture). Traditionally, the festival was a time that was used by the ancient pagans to take stock of their supplies and slaughter livestock for winter storage. The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, the boundary between the living and the dead dissolved, and the dead become dangerous for the living by causing problems such as sickness (plague) or damaged crops. The celebration of Samhain would frequently involve bonfires, upon which the bones of slaughtered livestock were thrown; costumes and masks were also worn in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or placate them.
The essential elements of Halloween - lighting bonfires, costuming, trick-or-treating, telling ghost stories and attending parties can all be traced back to Samhain celebrations as early as 2000 years ago. Ultimately, the Celts believed that on October 31, the Lord of Death (Saman), would call together all the souls that had died the previous year in order for them to travel to the afterlife. Thus, the living would often disguise themselves in ghoulish costumes in order for the spirits of the dead to think they were one of their own, and pass by them without incident. The villagers would also wear masks and form parades in order to lead the spirits (souls) out of the town. The Celts would also offer food to Saman, in order to persuade him to more be temperate when he is judging their ancestors. This is seen as a precursor to "trick-or-treating", a key component of modern day Halloween celebrations...