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Halloween means Hallows' Evening. It is the evening before All Hallows' Day (now called All Saints'Day) , a Christian holiday, celebrated on the November 1st.
History traces Halloween back to the ancient religion of the Celtics. The Celts were the ancestors of the present-day Irish, Welsh and Scottish people. In the 5th century BC, in Celtic Ireland, summer officially ended on October 31st. On the November 1st, Celtic peoples celebrated the festival of Samhain,which marked the beginning of winter and the Celtic New Year. Celts thought the division between the natural world and the supernatural world became very thin and all time and space was abruptly suspended on October 31st, and then the spirits of the died would come back and move freely looking for living bodies to possess.
One story about Jack, an Irishman, who was not allowed into Heaven because he was stingy with his money. So he was sent to hell. But down there he played tricks on the Devil (Satan), so he was kicked out of Hell and made to walk the earth forever carrying a lantern.
Well, Irish children made Jack's lanterns on October 31st from a large potato or turnip, hollowed out with the sides having holes and lit by little candles inside. And Irish children would carry them as they went from house to house begging for food for the village Halloween festival that honored the Druid god Muck Olla. The Irish name for these lanterns was "Jack with the lantern" or "Jack of the lantern," abbreviated as " Jack-o'-lantern" and now spelled "jack-o-lantern."
The traditional Halloween you can read about in most books was just children's fun night. Halloween celebrations would start in October in every elementary school.
Halloween is a western festival. It’s on Oct.31th. It’s a happy time for children because at night they put on the masks to attend the party. After the party, they knock at someone’s door and say: “trick or tread”. It means if you don’t give me the candies, I will play trick on you! At last kids can get enough candies for one year.
The American tradition of "trick-or-treating" probably dates back to the early All Souls' Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called "soul cakes" in return for their promise to pray for the family's dead relatives.
The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as "going a-souling" was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighborhood and be given ale, food, and money.
The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. Hundreds of years ago, winter was an uncertain and frightening time. Food supplies often ran low and, for the many people afraid of the dark, the short days of winter were full of constant worry. On Halloween, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. On Halloween, to keep ghosts away from their houses, people would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter.