Halloween is a holiday celebrated on the night of October 31. The word Halloween is a shortening of All Hallows’ Evening also known as Hallowe’en or All Hallows’ Eve.
Traditional activities include trick-or-treating, bonfires, costume parties, visiting “haunted houses” and carving jack-o-lanterns. Irish and Scottish immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century. Other western countries embraced the holiday in the late twentieth century including Ireland, the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom as well as of Australia and New Zealand.
The name “Halloween” is derived from the “All Hallow’s Eve” day (31st of October) which is translated as “The night of all saints”.
The saying goes that on the 31st of October all the evil spirits(dark forces) come out and it’s up to the forces of light (saints) to stop them. You know, the never-ending struggle between good and evil.
Another interesting fact is that originally the Jack-O-Lanterns where made out of Turnips! Yes, that’s right – turnips!
In Ohio, Iowa, and Massachusetts, the night designated for Trick-or-treating is often referred to as Beggars Night.
The Celts built bonfires to frighten the spirits away, and feasted and danced around the fires. The fires brought comfort to the souls in purgatory* and people prayed for them as they held burning straw up high.
(*Purgatory is a place where souls are temporarily punished for venial sins. After they have been punished enough, they are permitted to move on to heaven.)
In England, the day of fires became 5th November (Bonfire Night), the anniversary of the Gunpowder plot of 1605, but its closeness to Halloween is more than a coincidence. Halloween and Bonfire Night have a common origin they both originated from pagan times, when the evil spirits of darkness had to be driven away with noise and fire.