Home > Halloween
Halloween or Hallowe'en (a contraction of All Hallows Evening) also known as Allhalloween, All Hallows Eve or All Saints' Eve, is a celebration observed in a number of countries on 31st October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows Day. It begins the three day observance of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, and including saints (hallows) martyrs and all the faithful departed.
It is "widely believed" that many Halloween traditions originated from the ancient Celtic harvest festival Samhain, and that this Gaelic observance was Christianized by the early Church. Samhain and other such festival had pagan roots. Some, however, support the view that Halloween began independently of Samhain and has solely Christian roots.
Halloween activities include trick-or-treating (or the related guising), attending Halloween costume parties, decorating, carving pumpkins into jack-o'-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing and divination games, playing pranks, visiting haunted attractions, telling scary stories and watching horror films. In many parts of the world, the Christian religious observances of All Hallows Eve, including attending church services and lighting candles on the graves of the dead, remain popular, although elsewhere it is a more commercial and secular celebration. Some Christians historically abstained from meat on All Hallows Eve, a tradition reflected in the eating of certain foods on this vigil day, including apples, potato pancakes and soul cakes.
On All Hallows Eve, many Western Christian denominations encourage abstinence from meat, giving rise to a variety of vegetarian foods associated with this day.
Because in the Northern Hemisphere 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.
At one time, candy apples were commonly given to trick-or-treating children, but the practice rapidly waned in the wake of widespread rumours that some individuals were embedding items like pins and razor blades in the apples in the United States. While there is evidence of such incidents, relative to the degree of reporting of such cases, actual cases involving malicious acts are extremely rare and have never resulted in serious injury. Nonetheless, many parents assumed that such heinous practices were rampant because of the mass media. At the peak of the hysteria, some hospitals offered free X-rays of children's Halloween hauls in order to find evidence of tampering. Virtually all of the few known candy poisoning incidents involved parents who poisoned their own children's candy.
One custom that persists in modern day Ireland is the baking (or more often nowadays, the purchase) of a barmbrack (Irish: báirín breac), which is a light fruitcake, into which a plain ring, a coin and other charms are placed before baking. It is said that those who get a ring will find their true love in the ensuing year. This is similar to the tradition of king cake at the festival of Epiphany.
Foods associated with Halloween:
Bonfire toffee (Great Britain)
Candy apples/toffee apples (Great Britain and Ireland)
Candy apples, Candy corn, candy pumpkins (North America)
Monkey nuts (peanuts in their shells) (Scotland and Ireland)
Cookies shaped in Halloween themes
Novelty candy shaped like skulls, pumpkins, bats, worms, etc.
Pumpkin, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread
Ramekins filled with pumpkin purée
Roasted pumpkin seeds
Roasted sweet corn
The traditions and importance of Halloween vary greatly among countries that observe it. In Scotland and Ireland, traditional Halloween customs include children dressing up in costume going "guising", holding parties, while other practices in Ireland include lighting bonfires, and having firework displays. In Brittany children would play practical jokes by setting candles inside skulls in graveyards to frighten visitors. Mass transatlantic immigration in the 19th century popularized Halloween in North America, and celebration in the United States and Canada has had a significant impact on how the event is observed in other nations. This larger North American influence, particularly in iconic and commercial elements, has extended to places such as South America, Australia, New Zealand (most) continental Europe, Japan and other parts of East Asia. In the Philippines, during Halloween, Filipinos return to their hometowns and purchase candles and flowers, in preparation for the following All Saints Day (Araw ng mga Patay) on 1 November and All Souls Day, though it falls on 2 November, most of them observe it on the day before.