The celebration can be observed on the last day of October – the eve of All Hallows’ Day, the time for many Christians to commemorate the dead, including saints. Many customs are nowadays connected with Halloween, and some of them are believed to have pagan roots. Many traditions come from Celtic-speaking countries, such as Ireland or Scotland. These countries have already celebrated October 31 and November 1 as the Samhain festival and it was commonly believed that at this time it was easier for ghosts or fairies to get into human world. In the Christian history, in 835 Pope Gregory IV switched All Hallows’ day to 1 November, which was already the date of Samhain. Some traditions connected with Halloween as we know it today have involved in the 12th century. For example, it was customary to bake traditional, small cakes for all christened souls. Poor people used to walk door to door and ask for these cakes in exchange for a prayer for the dead. Nowadays this custom takes the form of trick-or-treating.
The custom of wearing costumes has also got historical roots. It was commonly believed that the lost souls of the dead that were wandering the world had their last chance to gain vengeance on their enemies on All Hallows’ Eve – which we know today as Halloween. People used to make masks or costumes in order to avoid being recognized by such a ghost.
Today most of these customs are still observed, but in quite a different form and meaning. In the United States nearly 90 percent children go trick-or-treating every year. Halloween parties are a great chance for teenagers, adults, and very often also celebrities to show the best costumes and masks or the most creative Halloween make-up. The social media are becoming a huge “Halloween fashion” show on October 31. The most interesting costumes of celebrities are later being judged and commented by different TV programs, trend setters and stylists.
There are also few characteristic symbols connected with Halloween. The most popular one is a big pumpkin with carved eyes and mouth and a candle put inside. This is also a tradition rooted in Ireland, where people carved scary faces on different vegetables that had to represent “Jack of the lantern” from a legend. Because of the pumpkins, orange has also become a color of Halloween. As the holiday is connected with ghosts and evil spirits, other popular symbols of Halloween are: witches, black cats or skeletons.
Did you know?
Many Americans love Halloween so much that they even buy costumes for their pets. It is estimated than only in the year 2018 they have spent nearly $480 million for pet costumes such as pumpkins, hot dogs or a bumble bee.
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