Straddling the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity, life and death, Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition. Halloween had its beginnings in an ancient, pre-Christian Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts.
Halloween is a yearly celebration observed in a number of countries on October 31, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Saints.
The most commonly things done in Halloween are trick-or-treating, attending costume parties, carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, visiting haunted attractions, playing pranks, telling scary stories, and watching horror films.
The mass of Irish and Scottish immigration during the 19th century was responsible for bringing Halloween in North America. They helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally.
Turnip has traditionally been used in Ireland and Scotland at Halloween, but immigrants to North America used the native pumpkin. Black, orange, and purple are Halloween’s traditional colors. Halloween costumes are traditionally modeled after supernatural figures such as monsters, ghosts, skeletons, witches, and devils. The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. Halloween has always been a holiday filled with mystery, magic and superstition. Today’s Halloween ghosts are often depicted as more fearsome and malevolent.
On the eve of Halloween, poor citizens roam around beg for food and families would give them pastries called “soul cakes” and in return the beggars would 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.
Trick-or-treating is a customary celebration for children on Halloween. Children go in various fancy costumes from house to house, asking for gifts or treats such as candy.
Halloween is celebrated at the time of yearly apple harvest. Candy apples, caramel or taffy apples are common Halloween treats made by rolling whole apples in sticky sugar syrup, sometimes followed by rolling them in nuts. Candy apples were commonly given to children.
The traditions and importance of Halloween vary greatly among countries. In Scotland, traditional Halloween customs include children dressing up in costume going “trick or treating” and holding parties. In Ireland, they celebrate by lighting bonfires, and having firework displays. Halloween was universally popularized only after Americans celebrating it. The celebration extended to places such as South America, Australia, New Zealand, continental Europe, Japan, and other parts of East Asia.
Halloween is considered to be the America’s most popular festival participated right from kids to elderly person. It has a high significance and people wait anxiously every year for this special eve.
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