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Halloween: Origins, Meaning, and Traditions
Halloween is a holiday celebrated each year on October 31, the evening before All Saints' Day. The celebration marks the day before the Western Christian feast of All Saints and initiates the season of Allhallowtide, which lasts three days and concludes with All Souls' Day. In much of Europe and most of North America, observance of Halloween is largely nonreligious.
What is Halloween and when is it celebrated?
The word Halloween comes from a contraction of All Hallows' Eve, which is the evening before All Hallows' Day or All Saints' Day. All Saints' Day is a Christian holiday that honors all the saints who have attained heaven. It is celebrated on November 1 in the Western churches and on the first Sunday after Pentecost in the Eastern churches.
Halloween is celebrated on October 31 in many countries around the world, especially in the United States, Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. Some countries have similar holidays that coincide with or are influenced by Halloween, such as Mexico's Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), China's Teng Chieh (Lantern Festival), and Japan's Obon Festival.
How did Halloween originate from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain?
Halloween's origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago, mostly in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.
In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort during the long, dark winter. To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes.
How did Halloween evolve over time and incorporate other influences?
By A.D. 43, the Roman Empire had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the 400 years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain. The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple, and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of bobbing for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.
In the In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints' Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween.
As European immigrants came to America, they brought their varied Halloween customs with them. Because of the rigid Protestant belief systems that characterized early New England, celebration of Halloween in colonial times was extremely limited there. It was much more common in Maryland and the southern colonies. As the beliefs and customs of different European ethnic groups and the American Indians meshed, a distinctly American version of Halloween began to emerge. The first celebrations included "play parties," which were public events held to celebrate the harvest. Neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell each other's fortunes, dance and sing.
Colonial Halloween festivities also featured the telling of ghost stories and mischief-making of all kinds. By the middle of the 19th century, annual autumn festivities were common, but Halloween was not yet celebrated everywhere in the country. In the second half of the 19th century, America was flooded with new immigrants. These new immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing Ireland's potato famine of 1846, helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally.
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Taking from Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today's "trick-or-treat" tradition. Young women believed that on Halloween they could divine the name or appearance of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple parings or mirrors.
In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers than about ghosts, pranks and witchcraft. At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focused on games, foods of the season and festive costumes. Parents were encouraged by newspapers and community leaders to take anything "frightening" or "grotesque" out of Halloween celebrations. Because of these efforts, Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones by the beginning of the 20th century.
Halloween: Costumes, Decorations, and Candy
Halloween is a time for fun and creativity, and one of the most enjoyable aspects of this holiday is dressing up in costumes, decorating your home or yard with spooky themes, and indulging in some sweet treats. Here are some ideas and tips for making your Halloween more festive and memorable.
What are some popular Halloween costumes and how to make them?
Some of the most popular Halloween costumes are based on characters from movies, TV shows, books, comics, video games, or myths and legends. For example, you can dress up as a superhero like Spider-Man, Batman, Wonder Woman, or Black Panther; a villain like Joker, Harley Quinn, Thanos, or Maleficent; a horror icon like Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, or Pennywise; a fantasy creature like a vampire, a werewolf, a witch, or a fairy; or a historical figure like a pirate, a cowboy, a ninja, or a princess.
You can buy ready-made costumes from online or local stores, or you can make your own with some creativity and materials you may already have at home. For example, you can make a ghost costume by cutting holes for eyes in a white sheet; you can make a mummy costume by wrapping yourself in toilet paper or bandages; you can make a skeleton costume by drawing bones on a black shirt and pants; or you can make a zombie costume by ripping and staining some old clothes and applying some fake blood and makeup.
What are some creative Halloween decorations and how to set them up?
Halloween decorations can add some atmosphere and excitement to your home or yard, and they can also impress or scare your guests or trick-or-treaters. Some of the most common Halloween decorations are pumpkins, spider webs, bats, ghosts, skulls, and tombstones. You can buy them from stores or make them yourself with some craft supplies.
For example, you can carve or paint some faces For example, you can carve or paint some faces on pumpkins and place them on your porch, windows, or stairs; you can stretch some cotton balls or white yarn to make spider webs and hang them on your walls, ceiling, or trees; you can cut out some bats from black paper or cardboard and stick them on your door, window, or wall; you can make some ghosts from white balloons, sheets, or paper and hang them from the ceiling, trees, or poles; you can buy or make some skulls from plastic, foam, or clay and place them on your table, shelf, or mantel; or you can make some tombstones from cardboard, wood, or styrofoam and write some funny or scary names on them and put them on your lawn or garden.
What are some fun facts and trivia about Halloween candy and how to enjoy it?
Halloween candy is one of the most anticipated and enjoyed aspects of the holiday for many people, especially children. According to the National Confectioners Association, Americans spend about $2.6 billion on Halloween candy each year, making it the second-largest commercial holiday after Christmas. Some of the most popular Halloween candies are chocolate bars, candy corn, gummy worms, licorice, lollipops, and marshmallows.
Here are some fun facts and trivia about Halloween candy that you may not know:
The first candy corn was made in the 1880s by a candy maker named George Renninger. He worked for the Wunderlee Candy Company in Philadelphia. The original name of the candy was "Chicken Feed" and it was sold in boxes with a rooster on them.
The Hershey's company produces over 20 million Hershey's Kisses every day. The name of the candy comes from the sound that the machine makes when it drops the chocolate onto the conveyor belt.
The Snickers bar was named after a horse owned by Frank Mars, the founder of Mars Inc. The horse died in 1930, the same year that the candy bar was introduced.
The Milky Way bar was created in 1923 by Frank Mars and his son Forrest. They wanted to make a candy bar that tasted like a malted milkshake. The original Milky Way bar had vanilla nougat and caramel covered in milk chocolate. The dark chocolate version was introduced in 1936 and was called "Forever Yours" until 1979 when it was renamed "Milky Way Midnight".
The Kit Kat bar was invented in 1935 by a company called Rowntree's in York, England. The name comes from a club of literary and political enthusiasts called the Kit-Cat Club that met at a pie shop in London in the 17th century. The club's motto was "A good piece of cake and a good piece of chat".
To enjoy your Halloween candy, you can either eat it as it is, or you can use it to make some delicious treats such as cookies, brownies, cupcakes, pies, or cakes. You can also trade your candy with your friends or family members to get your favorite ones. You can also donate your excess candy to some organizations that send them to troops overseas or to children in need.
Halloween: Safety Tips and Activities
Halloween is a fun and exciting holiday, but it also comes with some potential risks and challenges. Here are some safety tips and activities that can help you have a safe and enjoyable Halloween. What are some safety tips for trick-or-treating and attending parties?
Trick-or-treating and attending parties are some of the most fun and exciting ways to celebrate Halloween, but they also come with some potential risks and challenges. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind before you head out for some spooky fun:
Carry a flashlight, glow stick, or light-up bucket to make yourself more visible to drivers and other pedestrians. You can also wear bright colors or attach reflective tape or stickers to your costume and bag.
Wear a mask or face covering that covers your nose and mouth, especially if you are going to be in close contact with people outside your household. Avoid wearing costume masks over your face covering, as this can make it hard to breathe. You can also choose a costume that incorporates a face covering, such as a ninja, a bandit, or a doctor.
Stay with a group and follow the buddy system. Do not go trick-or-treating or to parties alone, and always let someone know where you are going and when you will be back. If you are a parent or guardian, accompany your children under 12 years old and keep an eye on them at all times.
Only visit well-lit houses and neighborhoods that you are familiar with. Do not enter any houses or cars unless you know the people inside. Respect the signs and wishes of the homeowners who do not want to participate in trick-or-treating.
Do not eat any candy or treats until you get home and inspect them. Throw away any unwrapped, spoiled, or suspicious-looking items. If you have any food allergies, check the labels carefully and avoid anything that contains your allergen. You can also look for houses that display a teal pumpkin, which means they offer non-food treats for kids with allergies.
If you are going to a party, drink responsibly and do not drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Have a designated driver or use a ride-sharing service or public transportation to get home safely. If you are hosting a party, provide non-alcoholic drinks and snacks for your guests, and do not let anyone drive if they are impaired.
What are some fun and healthy activities for celebrating Halloween at home or online?
If you prefer to stay home or avoid large gatherings this Halloween, there are still plenty of ways to have fun and celebrate the holiday with your family or friends. Here are some ideas for fun and healthy activities that you can do at home or online:
Organize a virtual Halloween party with your friends or coworkers using platforms like Zoom, Skype, or WebEx. You can play some virtual Halloween games, such as bingo, trivia, scavenger hunt, or charades. You can also have a costume contest, a pumpkin carving contest, or a spooky story contest.
Watch some scary or funny Halloween movies or shows with your family or friends. You can either watch them together on the same couch or use apps like Netflix Party or Scener to watch them online with others. Some of the classics include Hocus Pocus, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Addams Family, Ghostbusters, Beetlejuice, Scream, The Conjuring, and The Haunting of Hill House.
Make some delicious Halloween treats with your family or friends. You can either bake some cookies, brownies, cupcakes, pies, or cakes with Halloween shapes and decorations, or you can make some healthy snacks like fruit skewers, popcorn balls, granola bars, or smoothies with Halloween colors and flavors.
Create some spooky Halloween crafts with your family or friends. You can either make some decorations for your home or yard, such as paper bats, ghosts, pumpkins, lanterns, or wreaths, or you can make some gifts for your loved ones, such as cards, jewelry, candles, or soap with Halloween themes.
Read some scary or funny Halloween books or stories with your family or friends. You can either read them aloud or listen to them on audiobooks or podcasts. Some of the classics include Dracula, Frankenstein, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The Tell-Tale Heart, Coraline, and Goosebumps.
How to have a spooky and memorable Halloween during the pandemic?
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of our lives, and Halloween is no exception. While some traditional activities may not be safe or possible this year, there are still ways to have a spooky and memorable Halloween while following the public health guidelines and protecting yourself and others from the virus. Here are some tips and suggestions for celebrating Halloween during the pandemic:
Check your local and state regulations and recommendations before planning any Halloween activities. Some areas may have restrictions or bans on gatherings, events, or trick-or-treating. Follow the rules and respect the authorities and the community.
Wear a mask or face covering that covers your nose and mouth, even if you are wearing a costume mask. Avoid wearing costume masks over your face covering, as this can make it hard to breathe. You can also choose a costume that incorporates a face covering, such as a ninja, a bandit, or a doctor.
Practice social distancing and avoid close contact with people outside your household. Stay at least 6 feet away from others and avoid crowded places. If you are going trick-or-treating, limit your group to your household members and stay on the sidewalk or the street. If you are giving out candy, consider leaving a bowl of individually wrapped treats outside your door or on your porch, or use a long-handled tool to hand out the candy.
Wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitizer when needed. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling candy or touching any surfaces. Use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
Do not participate in any Halloween activities if you are sick or have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19. Stay home and isolate yourself from others until you are cleared by a health professional. Do not go trick-or-treating or to parties if you have any symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell, or others. Do not give out candy if you are sick or have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19.
Halloween is a holiday that celebrates the spooky, the scary, and the fun aspects of life. It has a rich history that dates back to ancient times and incorporates various cultural influences. It is also a time for creativity and expression, as people dress up in costumes, decorate their homes and yards, and enjoy some s