Halloween or Hallowe'en (a contraction of its original title "All Hallows' Evening"),also known as All Hallows' Eve,is a yearly holiday observed around the world on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows. Most scholars believe that All Hallows' Eve was originally influenced by western European harvest festivals and festivals of the dead with pagan roots, particularly the Celtic Samhain.Others maintain that it originated independently of Samhain.
Typical festive Halloween activities include trick-or-treating (also known as "guising"), attending costume parties, carving pumpkins into jack-o'-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, visiting haunted attractions, playing pranks, telling scary stories, and watching horror films.
Halloween is also thought to have been influenced by the Christian holy days of All Saints' Day (also known as All Hallows, Hallowmas or Hallowtide) on 1 November and All Souls' Day on 2 November.They were a time for honoring the saints and praying for the recently departed who had yet to reach Heaven. All Saints was introduced in the year 609, but was originally celebrated on 13 May.In 835, it was switched to 1 November (the same date as Samhain) at the behest of Pope Gregory IV.Some have suggested this was due to Celtic influence, while others suggest it was a Germanic idea.
By the end of the 12th century they had become holy days of obligation across Europe and involved such traditions as ringing bells for the souls in purgatory and "souling", the custom of baking and sharing soul cakes for "all crysten christened souls".Groups of poor people, often children, would go door-to-door on All Saints/All Souls collecting soul cakes, originally as a means of praying for souls in purgatory.Similar practices for the souls of the dead were found as far south as Italy.Shakespeare mentions the practice in his comedy The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1593), when Speed accuses his master of "puling [whimpering or whining] like a beggar at Hallowmas."The custom of wearing costumes has been linked to All Saints/All Souls by Prince Sorie Conteh, who wrote: "It was traditionally believed that the souls of the departed wandered the earth until All Saints' Day, and All Hallows' Eve provided one last chance for the dead to gain vengeance on their enemies before moving to the next world. In order to avoid being recognised by any soul that might be seeking such vengeance, people would don masks or costumes to disguise their identities".In Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night, Nicholas Rogers explained Halloween jack-o'-lanterns as originally being representations of souls in purgatory. Read more :