The name ‘Halloween’ is a contraction of ‘All Hallows Eve’, and is the night before ‘All Saints Day’.
Also known as Hallowe’en and All Saints Eve, Halloween is celebrated on the 31st of October.
It begins the three day observance of ‘AllHallowTide’, a time dedicated to remembering the Saints (Hallows), Martyrs and faithful departed.
It is widely believed that Halloween is a Christianised version of Samhain, the Gaelic festival celebrating the end of the harvest, and the beginning of winter, though some academics disagree.
Halloween activities revolve around dressing up, usually in scary costumes to go ‘Trick-or-Treat’ing, where children go door to door collecting sweets and Treats, under threat of a Trick if the home owner isn’t forthcoming.
At home, people decorate their homes, carve pumpkins into grotesque faces, bob for apples, tell scary stories, watch horror films and hold Halloween fancy dress parties.
On a less commercial note, Christians will visit the graves of dead relatives to light candles of remembrance and attend church services. Some abstain from eating meat on this day, choosing instead seasonally traditional foods such as apples, potato pancakes and ‘Soul Cakes’, a simple sweet cake, or Soul, that is given out to the children and poor of the parish.
It’s easy to see where the more commercial activities come from. Apple bobbing from the traditional eating of apples, children Trick or Treating from the distribution of Soul Cakes.
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