Halloween, or Hallowe'en, is a holiday celebrated on the night of October 31. Halloween activities include trick-or-treating, ghost tours, bonfires, costume parties, telling of ghost stories, visiting "haunted houses" and carving jack-o-lanterns. Irish immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century. Other western countries embraced the holiday in the late twentieth century. Halloween is celebrated in several countries of the Western world, most commonly in Ireland, the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, the United Kingdom, and occasionally in parts of Australia and New Zealand.
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          Trick-or-treating:
The main event for children of modern Halloween in the United States and Canada is trick-or-treating, in which children disguise themselves in costumes and go door-to-door in their neighborhoods, ringing each doorbell and yelling "trick or treat!" to solicit a gift of candy or similar items.


       Game & activities consist of:
Halloween Carnivals, cake walks, bobbing for apples, the watching of scary movies, hay rides, visiting graveyards, carving pumpkinsbuilding scarecrows and playing the popular Scavenger Hunt game.


      The imagery surrounding Halloween:
is largely an amalgamation of the Halloween season itself, nearly a century of work from American filmmakers and graphic artists, and a rather commercialized take on the dark and mysterious. Halloween imagery tends to involve death, magic, or mythical monsters. 


       Traditional characters:
include ghosts, ghouls, witches, vampires, bats, owls, crows, vultures, pumpkinmen, black cats, spiders, goblins, zombies, mummies, skeletons, and demons. 


       Costumes
Halloween Costumes are traditionally those of monsters such as vampires, ghosts, skeletons, witches, and devils. Costumes are also based on themes other than traditional horror, such as those of characters from television shows, movies and other pop culture icons. 

Costume sales
BIGresearch conducted a survey for the National Retail Federation in the United States and found that 53.3% of consumers planned to buy a costume for Halloween 2005, spending $38.11 on average (up 10 dollars from the year before). They were also expected to spend $4.96 billion in 2006, up significantly from just $3.3 billion the previous year.



       Types of Symbols:
Particularly in America, symbolism is inspired by classic horror films, which contain fictional figures like Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, and The Mummy. Elements of the autumn season, such as pumpkins and scarecrows, are also prevalent. Homes are often decorated with these types of symbols around Halloween.

         The carved pumpkin, lit by a candle inside, is one of Halloween's most prominent symbols. These lanterns are usually carved from a turnip or swede (or more uncommonly a mangelwurzel). The carving of pumpkins is associated with Halloween in North America, where pumpkins were readily available and much larger, making them easier to carve than turnips. Many families that celebrate Halloween carve a pumpkin into a frightening or comical face and place it on their home's doorstep after dark.


       Traditional Colors:
Black and orange are the traditional colors of Halloween, followed by yellow.

Symbolism
Black -- death, night, witches, black cats, bats, vampires, fear, ghostliness, silence.
Orange -- pumpkins, Jack O' lanterns, Autumn, the turning leaves, fire, sunset.

       Traditional Halloween Food:
Traditional Halloween fair consists of foods that are mainly popular in the fall season. Pumpkin soups, pumpkin cakes, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin breads and pumpkin pies are all very popular because of the symbolism the pumpkin has for Halloween. Areas usually have pumpkins in abundance. Baking pumpkins and ornamental pumpkins both. see pumpkin recipes

       Traditional Halloween Treats:
Because the holiday comes in the wake of the annual apple harvest, candy apples (also known as toffee, taffy or caramel apples) are a common Halloween treat made by rolling whole apples in a sticky sugar syrup, and sometimes rolling them in nuts. Candy apples and caramel apples will always be associated with Halloween treats and anything with nuts is popular too. (like pecan pies) Rice crispy treats, candy corn, roasted pumpkin seeds and very traditional popcorn balls goes back many many years.

       Spooky Theme Dishes:
It's very traditional to have spooky theme dishes at all Halloween parties. The food will be named spooky names like bloody bat wings (which is simply chicken wings in tomato sauce), it will look spooky or ugly, and the food is always made to look eerie by being served in ceramic bone pots or cooked in black cast iron cauldrons. Food cooked on a camp fire at night gives a spooky effect that is also popular. Foods like maggot stew, Frankenstein stew and Witches Black Brew Stew are just to name a few.
See The Spookiest Recipe Directory on the Web!


       Traditional Pranks:
  • Some teenagers in Canada and the States occasionally play pranks on unsuspecting victims like throwing toilet paper over someone's house and yard, (known as rolling yards or TPing) 
  • ding-dong-ditch (A game where the prankster knocks on a door and runs away before someone answers the door), 
  • stealing young trick-or-treaters' candy. (which is frowned upon) but done by the way of scaring them and taking their treats.
  • Egging or "egg" peoples houses, which usually is throwing eggs, but some people use apples, potatoes, and other fruits and vegetables (like watermelon) on the roof of someone's house.
  • Another way some teens may amuse themselves is by finding a house with candy they like and going back to it over and over with different masks on.


       Halloween is celebrated in several countries:
Irish immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century. Other western countries embraced the holiday in the late twentieth century. Halloween is celebrated in several countries of the Western world, most commonly in Ireland, the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, the United Kingdom, and occasionally in parts of Australia and New Zealand.


       United States & Canada:
Upon receiving trick-or-treaters, the house occupants (who might also be in costume) often hand out small candies, miniature chocolate bars, nuts, loose change, soda pop, stickers, or even crayons and pencils. Some homes will use sound effects and fog machines to help establish an eerie atmosphere. Other less scary house decoration themes might be used to entertain younger visitors. Children can often accumulate many treats on Halloween night, filling up entire pillow cases, pumpkin-shaped buckets, shopping bags, or large plastic containers. Large parties are commonly held on Halloween in which games like bobbing for apples and spooky story telling are common.


       Ireland
All over Ireland, huge bonfires are lit. Young children in disguise are warmly received by their neighbors with gifts of "fruit, miniature chocolate bars, loose change, peanuts and of course sweets" for the "Halloween Party", whilst their older male siblings play innocent pranks on bewildered victims. Some homes will put up decorations including Halloween lights. Children have the week off from school for Halloween, and it is common for teenagers and for college students to spend weeknights out and about with friends, pranking and causing mischief, if not trick-or-treating themselves, and perhaps even "egging" [throwing eggs at] houses, drinking alcohol, throwing bangers and setting off fireworks.


       Lebanon
In Lebanon a similar holiday is celebrated on the eve of Saint Barbara's Day (December 4). Children disguised in costumes also go trick-or-treating to invoke the saint's wandering in the mountains.


       Scotland
In Scotland, children are known as "guisers", though this term is now going into decline. In the past, the children going guising would dress in various (often home-made) costumes and disguises: hence (dis)'guisers'. The most popular costumes were skeletons, witches and various forms of scary fiends, complete with papier-mâché masks, though nurses' or cowboys' outfits were also given a rather incongruous outing. They would then form small bands of mixed-age children, the older ones trailing their younger siblings behind them, and venture out into the darkness each with their lantern. Until at least the 1970s the traditional Halloween light carried by Scottish children was not the now ubiquitous pumpkin but a 'tumshie lantern' made, as with a pumpkin, by hollowing out a very large swede/yellow turnip ("tumshie" in the West of Scotland dialect of Scots) and carving a scary face, through which shone the candle inside. Then, each carrying their tumshie lantern, they would knock on all the neighbors' doors where the eldest or boldest of the group would ask, "Are ye wantin' any guisers?". If the answer was yes, the children would be invited inside where the grown-ups would pretend to try to guess the identity of each guiser, who then had to impress the company with a song, poem, trick, joke or dance—known as their 'party piece'—in order to earn treats. Today, however, they simply say "trick or treat" in order to earn sweets. Traditionally, nuts, oranges, apples and dried fruit as well as "sweeties" were offered, though children might earn a small amount of cash, usually no more than 50p. In some houses the neighbors would have prepared a pail or basin filled with apples ready for the game of 'dookin' for apples'. The children had to 'dook' (Scots) their faces into the water with their hands behind their backs to try to pick up an apple by biting into it.


       England and Wales
In England and Wales, trick-or-treating does occur, although the practice is regarded by some as a nuisance or even a menacing form of begging. In some areas, households have started to put decorations on the front door to indicate that trick-or-treaters are welcome, the idea being that trick-or-treaters will avoid a house not participating in the custom. Tricks currently play a less prominent role, though Halloween night is often marked by vandalism such as soaping windows, egging houses or stringing toilet paper through trees.


       In Welsh
Halloween is known as Nos Galan Gaeaf (the beginning of the new year). Spirits are said to walk around and a "white lady" ghost is sometimes said to appear. Bonfires are lit on hillsides to mark the night.
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Halloween or Hallowe'en (/ˌhæləˈwin, -oʊˈin, ˌhɒl-/; a contraction of "All Hallows' Evening"), also known as All Hallows' Eve, is a yearly celebration observed in a number of countries on October 31, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows (or All Saints) and the day initiating the triduum of Hallowmas, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed believers.
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According to many scholars, All Hallows' Eve is a Christianized feast initially influenced by Celtic harvest festivals, and festivals of the dead with possible pagan roots, particularly the Gaelic Samhain. Other scholars maintain that it originated independently of Samhain and has solely Christian roots.

Typical festive Halloween activities include trick-or-treating (also known as "guising"), attending costume parties, decorating, carving pumpkins into jack-o'-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, visiting haunted attractions, playing pranks, telling scary stories, and watching horror films.
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Etymology

The word Halloween or Hallowe'en dates to about 1745, and is of Christian origin. It comes from a Scottish term for All Hallows' Eve (the evening before All Hallows' Day). In Scots, the word eve is even, and this is contracted to e'en or een. Over time, (All) Hallow(s) E(v)en evolved into Halloween. Although the phrase All Hallows' is found in Old English (ealra hālgena mæssedæg, mass-day of all saints), All Hallows' Eve is itself not seen until 1556.
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History of Halloween

Gaelic and Welsh influence:  The lighting of bonfires by the ancient Celts may have influenced the lighting of bonfires on All Hallows' Eve

Today's Halloween customs are thought to have been influenced by folk customs and beliefs from the Celtic-speaking countries, some of which have pagan roots, and others which may be rooted in Celtic Christianity. Indeed, Jack Santino, an academic folklorist, writes that "the sacred and the religious are a fundamental context for understanding Halloween in Northern Ireland, but there as throughout Ireland an uneasy truce exists between customs and beliefs associated with Christianity and those associated with religions that were Irish before Christianity arrived." Historian Nicholas Rogers, exploring the origins of Halloween, notes that while "some folklorists have detected its origins in the Roman feast of Pomona, the goddess of fruits and seeds, or in the festival of the dead called Parentalia, it is more typically linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain", which comes from the Old Irish for "summer's end". Samhain (pronounced SAH-win or SOW-in) was the first and most important of the four quarter days in the medieval Gaelic calendar and was celebrated in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. It was held on or about October 31 – November 1 and kindred festivals were held at the same time of year by the Brittonic Celts; for example Calan Gaeaf (in Wales), Kalan Gwav (in Cornwall) and Kalan Goañv (in Brittany). Samhain and Calan Gaeaf are mentioned in some of the earliest Irish and Welsh literature. The names have been used by historians to refer to Celtic Halloween customs up until the 19th century, and are still the Gaelic and Welsh names for Halloween.
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Christian Influence (see religious perspectives)

Today's Halloween customs are also thought to have been influenced by Christian dogma and practices derived from it. Halloween falls on the evening before the Christian holy days of All Hallows' Day (also known as All Saints', Hallowmas or Hallowtide) on November 1 and All Souls' Day on November 2, thus giving the holiday on October 31 the full name of All Hallows' Eve. These three days are collectively referred to as Hallowmas and are a time for honoring the saints and praying for the recently departed souls who have yet to reach Heaven. All Saints was introduced in the year 609, but was originally celebrated on May 13. In 835, it was switched to November 1 (the same date as Samhain) at the behest of Pope Gregory IV, on the "practical grounds that Rome in summer could not accommodate the great number of pilgrims who flocked to it", and perhaps because of public health considerations regarding Roman Fever, a disease that claimed a number of lives during the sultry summers of the region. Some have suggested this was due to Celtic influence, while others suggest it was a Germanic idea.
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Symbols

Development of artifacts and symbols associated with Halloween formed over time. Jack-o'-lanterns are traditionally carried by guisers on All Hallows' Eve in order to frighten evil spirits. There is a popular Irish Christian folktale associated with the jack-o'-lantern, which in lore, is said to represent a "soul who has been denied entry into both heaven and hell":
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Trick-or-treating and guising

Trick-or-treating is a customary celebration for children on Halloween. Children go in costume from house to house, asking for treats such as candy or sometimes money, with the question, "Trick or treat?" The word "trick" refers to "threat" to perform mischief on the homeowners or their property if no treat is given. The practice is said to have roots in the medieval practice of mumming, which is closely related to souling (discussed above). John Pymm writes that "many of the feast days associated with the presentation of mumming plays were celebrated by the Christian Church." These feast days included All Hallows' Eve, Christmas, Twelfth Night and Shrove Tuesday. Mumming, practised in Germany, Scandinavia and other parts of Europe, involved masked persons in fancy dress who "paraded the streets and entered houses to dance or play dice in silence." Their "basic narrative framework is the story of St. George and the Seven Champions of Christendom."
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Religious observances

During Hallowmas, many Christian believers visit graveyards in order to place flowers and candles on the graves of their loved ones.

On Hallowe'en (All Hallows' Eve), in Poland, believers are taught to pray out loud as they walk through the forests in order that the souls of the dead might find comfort; in Spain, Christian priests toll their church bells in order to allow their congregants to remember the dead on All Hallows' Eve. The Christian Church traditionally observed Hallowe'en through a vigil "when worshippers would prepare themselves with prayers and fasting prior to the feast day itself." This church service is known as the Vigil of All Hallows or the Vigil of All Saints; an initiative known as Night of Light seeks to further spread the Vigil of All Hallows throughout Christendom. After the service, "suitable festivities and entertainments" often follow, as well as a visit to the graveyard or cemetery, where flowers and candles are often placed in preparation for All Hallows' Day.
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