by Polina

Halloween also known as All Hallows' Eve, is a yearly celebration in many countries on October 31, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Saints and the day initiating the triduum of Hollowmas, the time in the year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed believers.

According to many scholars, All Hallows' Eve is a Christianized feast originally influenced by western European harvest festivals, and festivals of the dead with possible pagan roots, particularly the Celtic Samhain. Other scholars maintain that it originated independently of Samhain and has solely Christian roots.

One of the earliest works on the subject of Halloween is from Scottish poet John Mayne, who, in 1780, made note of pranks at Halloween; "What fearfu' pranks ensue!", as well as the supernatural associated with the night, "Bogies" (ghosts), influencing Robert Burns' Halloween 1785. Elements of the autumn season, such as pumpkins, corn husks and scarecrows, are also prevalent. Homes are often decorated with these types of symbols around Halloween.

Typical festive Halloween  celebration is trick-or-treat (also known as "guising"). Children go in costumes from house to house, asking for treats such as candy or sometimes money, with the question, "Trick or treat?". The word "trick" refers to "threat" to perform mischief on the homeowners or their property if no treat is give. Other activities are attending costume parties, decorating, carving pumpkins into jack-o'-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, visiting haunted attractions, playing pranks, telling scary stories, and watching horror films.

The modern imagery of Halloween comes from many sources, including national customs, works of Gothic and horror literature. Halloween imagery includes themes of death, evil and ocult and mythical monsters. Black, orange, and sometimes purple are Halloween's traditional colors.Today's Halloween customs are thought to have been influenced by folk customs and beliefs from the Celtic-speaking countries some of which have pagan roots, and others which are rooted in Celtic Christianity. Halloween costumes are traditionally modeled after supernatural figures such as monsters, ghosts, skeletons, witches, and devils. A priest once had said "By dressing up in costumes and portraying frightening creatures, who at one time caused us to fear and tremble, we. . . are poking fun at the serpent whose head has been crushed by our Savior." Over time, in the United States the costume selection extended to include popular characters from fiction, celebrities, and generic archetypes such as ninjas and princesses.

Because Halloween comes in the wake of the yearly apple harvest, candy apples (known as toffee apples outside North America), caramel or taffy apples are common Halloween treats made by rolling whole apples in a sticky sugar syrup, sometimes followed by rolling them in nuts.


See wikipedia for lots more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween

A great website for British culture and traditions is http://resources.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/halloween.html


Date last modified: Thu 24th November 2016