Halloween

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This article is about the observance. For other uses, see Halloween (disambiguation).
"All Hallows' Eve" redirects here. For other uses, see All Hallows' Eve (disambiguation).
Halloween
Jack-o'-Lantern 2003-10-31.jpg
A jack-o'-lantern, one of the symbols of Halloween
Also called Hallowe'en
Allhallowe'en
All Hallows' Eve
All Saints' Eve
Observed by Western Christians and many non-Christians around the world[1]
Significance First day of Allhallowtide
Celebrations Trick-or-treating, costume parties, making jack-o'-lanterns, lighting bonfires, divination, apple bobbing, visiting haunted house attractions
Observances Church services,[2] prayer,[3] fasting,[1] and vigils[4]
Date 31 October
Next time 31 October 2014 (2014-10-31)
Frequency annual
Related to Totensonntag, Blue Christmas, Thursday of the Dead, Samhain, Hop-tu-Naa, Calan Gaeaf, Allantide, Day of the Dead, Reformation Day, All Saints' Day (cfvigils)

Halloween or Hallowe'en (/ˌhæləˈwn, -ˈn, ˌhɑːl-/; a contraction of "All Hallows' Evening"),[5] also known as Allhalloween,[6] All Hallows' Eve,[7] or All Saints' Eve,[8] is a yearly celebration observed in a number of countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows' Day. It initiates the triduum of Allhallowtide,[9] the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed believers.[10] Within Allhallowtide, the traditional focus of All Hallows' Eve revolves around the theme of using "humor and ridicule to confront the power of death."[11]

According to many academic scholars, All Hallows' Eve is a Christianized feast initially influenced by Celtic harvest festivals,[12][13] with possible pagan roots, particularly the Gaelic Samhain.[7][14][15] Other academic scholars maintain that it originated independently of Samhain and has solely Christian roots.[16][17]

Typical festive Halloween activities include trick-or-treating (or the related "guising"), attending costume parties, decorating, carving pumpkins into jack-o'-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, visiting haunted house attractions, playing pranks, 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,[18][19][20] although in other locations, these solemn customs are less pronounced in favour of a more commercialized and secularized celebration.[21][22][23] Because many Western Christian denominations encourage, although no longer require, abstinence from meat on All Hallows' Eve,[24][25] the tradition of eating certain vegetarian foods for this vigil day developed, including the consumption of apples, colcannon, cider, potato pancakes, and soul cakes.[25][26]

Etymology[edit]

The word Halloween or Hallowe'en dates to about 1745[27] and is of Christian origin.[28] The word "Halloween" means "hallowed evening" or "holy evening".[29] It comes from a Scottish term for All Hallows' Eve (the evening before All Hallows' Day).[30][31] In Scots, the word "eve" is even, and this is contracted to e'en or een. Over time, (All) Hallow(s) Eve(n) evolved into Halloween. Although the phrase "All Hallows'" is found in Old English (ealra hālgena mæssedæg, all saints mass-day), "All Hallows' Eve" is itself not seen until 1556.[31][32]

History[edit]

Gaelic and Welsh influence[edit]

An early 20th-century Irish Hallowe'en mask displayed at the Museum of Country Life.

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.[33][34] 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".[35] 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".[33] 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.[36][37] It was held on or about 31 October – 1 November 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,[38] and are still the Gaelic and Welsh names for Halloween.

Samhain/Calan Gaeaf marked the end of the harvest season and beginning of winter or the 'darker half' of the year.[39][40] Like Beltane/Calan Mai, it was seen as a liminal time, when the spirits or fairies (the Aos Sí) could more easily come into our world and were particularly active.[41][42] Most scholars see the Aos Sí as "degraded versions of ancient gods [...] whose power remained active in the people's minds even after they had been officially replaced by later religious beliefs". The Aos Sí were both respected and feared, with individuals often invoking the protection of God when approaching their dwellings.[43][44] At Samhain, it was believed that the Aos Sí needed to be propitiated to ensure that the people and their livestock survived the winter. Offerings of food and drink, or portions of the crops, were left for the Aos Sí.[45][46][47][48] The souls of the dead were also said to revisit their homes.[49] Places were set at the dinner table or by the fire to welcome them.[50] The belief that the souls of the dead return home on one night or day of the year seems to have ancient origins and is found in many cultures throughout the world.[51] In 19th century Ireland, "candles would be lit and prayers formally offered for the souls of the dead. After this the eating, drinking, and games would begin".[52] Throughout the Gaelic and Welsh regions, the household festivities included rituals and games intended to divine one's future, especially regarding death and marriage.[53] Nuts and apples were often used in these divination rituals. Special bonfires were lit and there were rituals involving them. Their flames, smoke and ashes were deemed to have protective and cleansing powers, and were also used for divination.[38][39] It is suggested that the fires were a kind of imitative or sympathetic magic – they mimicked the Sun, helping the "powers of growth" and holding back the decay and darkness of winter.[50][54][55] Christian minister Eddie J. Smith suggests that the bonfires were also used to scare witches of "their awaiting punishment in hell".[56]

Snap-Apple Night, painted by Daniel Maclise in 1833, shows people feasting and playing divination games on Halloween in Ireland.

In modern Ireland, Scotland, Mann and Wales, the festival included mumming and guising,[57] the latter of which goes back at least as far as the 16th century.[58] This involved people going house-to-house in costume (or in disguise), usually reciting verses or songs in exchange for food.[57] It may have come from the Christian custom of souling (see below) or it may have a Gaelic folk origin, with the costumes being a means of imitating, or disguising oneself from, the Aos Sí. In Scotland, youths went house-to-house on 31 October with masked, painted or blackened faces, often threatening to do mischief if they were not welcomed.[57] F. Marian McNeill suggests the ancient festival included people in costume representing the spirits, and that faces were marked (or blackened) with ashes taken from the sacred bonfire.[58] In parts of Wales, men went about dressed as fearsome beings called gwrachod.[57] In the late 19th and early 20th century, young people in Glamorgan and Orkney dressed as the opposite gender.[57] In parts of southern Ireland, the guisers included a hobby horse. A man dressed as a Láir Bhán (white mare) led youths house-to-house reciting verses—some of which had pagan overtones—in exchange for food. If the household donated food it could expect good fortune from the 'Muck Olla'; not doing so would bring misfortune.[59][60] Elsewhere in Europe, mumming and hobby horses were part of other yearly festivals. However, in the Celtic-speaking regions they were "particularly appropriate to a night upon which supernatural beings were said to be abroad and could be imitated or warded off by human wanderers".[57] As early as the 18th century, "imitating malignant spirits" led to playing pranks in Ireland and the Scottish Highlands.[57] Wearing costumes at Halloween spread to England in the 20th century, as did the custom of playing pranks.[57] The "traditional illumination for guisers or pranksters abroad on the night in some places was provided by turnips or mangel wurzels, hollowed out to act as lanterns and often carved with grotesque faces to represent spirits or goblins".[57] These were common in parts of Ireland and the Scottish Highlands in the 19th century,[57] as well as in Somerset (see Punkie Night). In the 20th century they spread to other parts of England and became generally known as jack-o'-lanterns.[57]

Christian influence[edit]

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' or Hallowmas) on 1 November and All Souls' Day on 2 November, thus giving the holiday on 31 October the full name of All Hallows' Eve (meaning the evening before All Hallows' Day).[61] Since the time of the primitive Church,[62] major feasts in the Christian Church (such as Christmas, Easter and Pentecost) had vigils which began the night before, as did the feast of All Hallows'.[63] These three days are collectively referred to as Allhallowtide 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 13 May.[64] In 835, it was switched to 1 November (the same date as Samhain) at the behest of Pope Gregory IV.[64] Some suggest this was due to Celtic influence, while others suggest it was a Germanic idea.[64] It is also suggested that the change was made 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.[65]

On All Hallows' Eve, Christians in some parts of the world visit graveyards to pray and place flowers and candles on the graves of their loved ones.[66]

By the end of the 12th century they had become holy days of obligation across Europe and involved such traditions as ringing church bells for the souls in purgatory. In addition, "it was customary for criers dressed in black to parade the streets, ringing a bell of mournful sound and calling on all good Christians to remember the poor souls."[67] "Souling", the custom of baking and sharing soul cakes for all christened souls,[68] has been suggested as the origin of trick-or-treating.[69] The custom dates back at least as far as the 15th century[70] and was found in parts of England, Belgium, Germany, Austria and Italy.[51] Groups of poor people, often children, would go door-to-door during Allhallowtide, collecting soul cakes as a means of praying for souls in purgatory.[70] Shakespeare mentions the practice in his comedy The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1593).[71] The custom of wearing costumes has been explicated 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".[72] In the Middle Ages, churches displayed the relics of martyred saints and those parishes that were too poor to have relics let parishioners dress up as the saints instead,[73] a practice that some Christians continue in Halloween celebrations today.[74] Academic folklorist Kingsley Palmer, in addition to others, has suggested that the carved jack-o'-lantern, a popular symbol of Halloween, originally represented the souls of the dead.[75][76] On Halloween, in medieval Europe, "fires [were] lit to guide these souls on their way and deflect them from haunting honest Christian folk."[77] In addition, households in Austria, England, Ireland often had "candles burning in every room to guide the souls back to visit their earthly homes". These were known as "soul lights".[78][79][80] Many Christians in continental Europe, especially in France, acknowledged "a belief that once a year, on Hallowe'en, the dead of the churchyards rose for one wild, hideous carnival," known as the danse macabre, which has been commonly depicted in church decoration, especially on the walls of cathedrals, monasteries, and cemeteries.[81] Christopher Allmand and Rosamond McKitterick write in The New Cambridge Medieval History that "Christians were moved by the sight of the Infant Jesus playing on his mother's knee; their hearts were touched by the Pietà; and patron saints reassured them by their presence. But, all the while, the danse macabre urged them not to forget the end of all earthly things."[82] This danse macabre, which was enacted by "Christian village children [who] celebrated the vigil of All Saints" in the 16th Century, has been suggested as the predecessor of modern day costume parties on this same day.[83][84]

In parts of Britain, these customs came under attack during the Reformation as some Protestants berated purgatory as a "popish" doctrine incompatible with the notion of predestination. Thus, for some Nonconformist Protestants, the theology of All Hallows’ Eve was redefined; without the doctrine of purgatory, "the returning souls cannot be journeying from Purgatory on their way to Heaven, as Catholics frequently believe and assert. Instead, the so-called ghosts are thought to be in actuality evil spirits. As such they are threatening."[79] Other Protestants maintained belief in an intermediate state, known as Hades (Bosom of Abraham),[85] and continued to observe the original customs, especially candlelit processions and the ringing of church bells in memory of the dead.[61] With regard to the evil spirits, on Halloween, "barns and homes were blessed to protect people and livestock from the effect of witches, who were believed to accompany the malignant spirits as they traveled the earth."[77] In the 19th century, in some rural parts of England, families gathered on hills on the night of All Hallows' Eve. One held a bunch of burning straw on a pitchfork while the rest knelt around him in a circle, praying for the souls of relatives and friends until the flames went out. This was known as teen'lay, derived either from the Old English tendan (meaning to kindle) or a word related to Old Irish tenlach (meaning hearth).[86] The rising popularity of Guy Fawkes Night (5 November) from 1605 onward, saw many Halloween traditions appropriated by that holiday instead, and Halloween's popularity waned in Britain, with the noteworthy exception of Scotland.[87] There and in Ireland, they had been celebrating Samhain and Halloween since at least the early Middle Ages, and the Scottish kirk took a more pragmatic approach to Halloween, seeing it as important to the life cycle and rites of passage of communities and thus ensuring its survival in the country.[87]

In France, some Christian families, on the night of All Hallows' Eve, prayed beside the graves of their loved ones, setting down dishes full of milk for them.[78] On Halloween, in Italy, some families left a large meal out for ghosts of their passed relatives, before they departed for church services.[88] In Spain, on this night, special pastries are baked, known as "bones of the holy" (Spanish: Huesos de Santo) and put them on the graves of the churchyard, a practice that continues to this day.[89]

Spread to North America[edit]

The annual Greenwich Village Halloween Parade in New York City, the world's largest Halloween parade.[90]

Lesley Bannatyne and Cindy Ott both write that Anglican colonists in the South and Catholic colonists in Maryland "recognized All Hallow’s Eve in their church calendars",[91][92] although the Puritans of New England maintained strong opposition to the holiday, along with other traditional celebrations of the established Church, including Christmas.[93] Mass Irish and Scottish immigration during the 19th century increased the holiday’s celebration in the United States.[94] "In Cajun areas, a nocturnal Mass was said in cemeteries on Halloween night. Candles that had been blessed were placed on graves, and families sometimes spent the entire night at the graveside."[95] Confined to the immigrant communities during the mid-19th century, it was gradually assimilated into mainstream society and by the first decade of the 20th century it was being celebrated coast to coast by people of all social, racial and religious backgrounds.[96]

The annual New York Halloween Parade, initiated in 1974 by puppeteer and mask maker Ralph Lee of the Lower Manhattan neighborhood of Greenwich Village in New York City, is the world's largest Halloween parade and America's only major nighttime parade, attracting more than 60,000 costumed participants, 2 million in-person spectators, and a worldwide television audience of over 100 million.[90]

Symbols[edit]

At Halloween, yards and public spaces may be decorated with traditionally macabre symbols including witches, skeletons, cobwebs, and headstones

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.[76][97] There is a popular Irish Christian folktale associated with the jack-o'-lantern,[98] which in lore, is said to represent a "soul who has been denied entry into both heaven and hell":[99]

On route home after a night's drinking, Jack encounters the Devil and tricks him into climbing a tree. A quick-thinking Jack etches the sign of the cross into the bark, thus trapping the Devil. Jack strikes a bargain that Satan can never claim his soul. After a life of sin, drink, and mendacity, Jack is refused entry to heaven when he dies. Keeping his promise, the Devil refuses to let Jack into hell and throws a live coal straight from the fires of hell at him. It was a cold night, so Jack places the coal in a hollowed out turnip to stop it from going out, since which time Jack and his lantern have been roaming looking for a place to rest.[100]

In Ireland and Scotland, the turnip has traditionally been carved during Halloween,[101][102] but immigrants to North America used the native pumpkin, which is both much softer and much larger – making it easier to carve than a turnip.[101] The American tradition of carving pumpkins is recorded in 1837[103] and was originally associated with harvest time in general, not becoming specifically associated with Halloween until the mid-to-late 19th century.[104]

The modern imagery of Halloween comes from many sources, including Christian eschatology, national customs, works of Gothic and horror literature (such as the novels Frankenstein and Dracula) and classic horror films (such as Frankenstein and The Mummy).[105][106] Imagery of the skull, a reference to Golgotha, in the Christian tradition, serves as "a reminder of death and the transitory quality of human life" and is consequently found in memento mori and vanitas compositions;[107] skulls have therefore been commonplace in Halloween, which touches on this theme.[108] Traditionally, the back walls of churches are "decorated with a depiction of the Last Judgment, complete with graves opening and the dead rising, with a heaven filled with angels and a hell filled with devils," a motif that has permeated the observance of this triduum.[109] One of the earliest works on the subject of Halloween is from Scottish poet John Mayne, who, in 1780, made note of pranks at Halloween; "What fearfu' pranks ensue!", as well as the supernatural associated with the night, "Bogies" (ghosts), influencing Robert Burns' "Halloween" (1785).[110] Elements of the autumn season, such as pumpkins, corn husks and scarecrows, are also prevalent. Homes are often decorated with these types of symbols around Halloween. Halloween imagery includes themes of death, evil, and mythical monsters.[111] Black, orange, and sometimes purple are Halloween's traditional colors.

Trick-or-treating and guising[edit]

Main article: Trick-or-treating
Trick-or-treaters in Sweden

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.[69] The practice is said to have roots in the medieval practice of mumming, which is closely related to souling (discussed above).[112] John Pymm writes that "many of the feast days associated with the presentation of mumming plays were celebrated by the Christian Church."[113] These feast days included All Hallows' Eve, Christmas, Twelfth Night and Shrove Tuesday.[114][115] Mumming, practised in Germany, Scandinavia and other parts of Europe,[116] 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."[117]

In Scotland and Ireland, guising – children disguised in costume going from door to door for food or coins  – is a traditional Halloween custom, and is recorded in Scotland at Halloween in 1895 where masqueraders in disguise carrying lanterns made out of scooped out turnips, visit homes to be rewarded with cakes, fruit and money.[102] The practice of guising at Halloween in North America is first recorded in 1911, where a newspaper in Kingston, Ontario reported children going "guising" around the neighborhood.[118]

Souling was a Christian practice carried out in many English towns on Halloween and Christmas

American historian and author Ruth Edna Kelley of Massachusetts wrote the first book length history of Halloween in the US; The Book of Hallowe'en (1919), and references souling in the chapter "Hallowe'en in America":

The taste in Hallowe'en festivities now is to study old traditions, and hold a Scotch party, using Burns' poem Hallowe'en as a guide; or to go a-souling as the English used. In short, no custom that was once honored at Hallowe'en is out of fashion now.[119]

In her book, Kelley touches on customs that arrived from across the Atlantic; "Americans have fostered them, and are making this an occasion something like what it must have been in its best days overseas. All Halloween customs in the United States are borrowed directly or adapted from those of other countries".[120] While the first reference to "guising" in North America occurs in 1911, another reference to ritual begging on Halloween appears, place unknown, in 1915, with a third reference in Chicago in 1920.[121]

An automobile trunk at a trunk-or-treat event at St. John Lutheran Church and Early Learning Center in Darien, Illinois

The earliest known use in print of the term "trick or treat" appears in 1927, from Blackie, Alberta, Canada:

Hallowe'en provided an opportunity for real strenuous fun. No real damage was done except to the temper of some who had to hunt for wagon wheels, gates, wagons, barrels, etc., much of which decorated the front street. The youthful tormentors were at back door and front demanding edible plunder by the word “trick or treat” to which the inmates gladly responded and sent the robbers away rejoicing.[122]

The thousands of Halloween postcards produced between the turn of the 20th century and the 1920s commonly show children but not trick-or-treating.[123] The editor of a collection of over 3,000 vintage Halloween postcards writes, "There are cards which mention the custom [of trick-or-treating] or show children in costumes at the doors, but as far as we can tell they were printed later than the 1920s and more than likely even the 1930s. Tricksters of various sorts are shown on the early postcards, but not the means of appeasing them".[124] Trick-or-treating does not seem to have become a widespread practice until the 1930s, with the first U.S. appearances of the term in 1934,[125] and the first use in a national publication occurring in 1939.[126]

A popular variant of trick-or-treating, known as trunk-or-treating (or Halloween tailgaiting), occurs when "children are offered treats from the trunks of cars parked in a church parking lot," or sometimes, a school parking lot.[89][127] In a trunk-or-treat event, the trunk (boot) of each automobile is decorated with a certain theme,[128] such as those of children's literature, movies, scripture, and job roles.[129] Because the traditional style of trick-or-treating was made impossible after Hurricane Katrina, trunk-or-treating provided comfort to those whose homes were devastated.[130] Trunk-or-treating has grown in popularity due to its perception as being more safe than going door to door, a point that resonates well with parents, as well as the fact that it "solves the rural conundrum in which homes [are] built a half-mile apart".[131][132]

Costumes[edit]

Main article: Halloween costume
A costume party in 1890.

Halloween costumes are traditionally modeled after supernatural figures such as vampires, monsters, ghosts, skeletons, witches, and devils. Over time, in the United States the costume selection extended to include popular characters from fiction, celebrities, and generic archetypes such as ninjas and princesses.[69]

Dressing up in costumes and going "guising" was prevalent in Ireland and Scotland at Halloween by the late 19th century.[102] Costuming became popular for Halloween parties in the US in the early 20th century, as often for adults as for children. The first mass-produced Halloween costumes appeared in stores in the 1930s when trick-or-treating was becoming popular in the United States.

Rev. Dr. Eddie J. Smith, in his book Halloween, Hallowed Be Thy Name, offers a religious perspective to the wearing of costumes on All Hallows' Eve, suggesting that by dressing up as creatures "who at one time caused us to fear and tremble", people are able to poke fun at Satan "whose kingdom has been plundered by our Saviour." Images of skeletons and the dead are traditional decorations used as memento mori.[133][134]

UNICEF[edit]

"Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF" is a fundraising program to support UNICEF,[69] a United Nations Programme that provides humanitarian aid to children in developing countries. Started as a local event in a Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood in 1950 and expanded nationally in 1952, the program involves the distribution of small boxes by schools (or in modern times, corporate sponsors like Hallmark, at their licensed stores) to trick-or-treaters, in which they can solicit small-change donations from the houses they visit. It is estimated that children have collected more than $118 million for UNICEF since its inception. In Canada, in 2006, UNICEF decided to discontinue their Halloween collection boxes, citing safety and administrative concerns; after consultation with schools, they instead redesigned the program.[135][136]

Games and other activities[edit]

In this 1904 Halloween greeting card, divination is depicted: the young woman looking into a mirror in a darkened room hopes to catch a glimpse of her future husband.

There are several games traditionally associated with Halloween parties. One common game is dunking or apple bobbing, which may be called "dooking" in Scotland[137] in which apples float in a tub or a large basin of water and the participants must use their teeth to remove an apple from the basin. The practice is thought by some to have derived from the Roman practices in celebration of Pomona.[69] A variant of dunking involves kneeling on a chair, holding a fork between the teeth and trying to drive the fork into an apple. Another common game involves hanging up treacle or syrup-coated scones by strings; these must be eaten without using hands while they remain attached to the string, an activity that inevitably leads to a very sticky face.

Some games traditionally played at Halloween are forms of divination. In All Hallows' Eve celebrations during the Middle Ages, these activities historically occurred only in rural areas of medieval Europe and were only done by a "rare few" as these were considered to be "deadly serious" practices.[77] A traditional Scottish form of divining one's future spouse is to carve an apple in one long strip, then toss the peel over one's shoulder. The peel is believed to land in the shape of the first letter of the future spouse's name.[138] Unmarried women were told that if they sat in a darkened room and gazed into a mirror on Halloween night, the face of their future husband would appear in the mirror. However, if they were destined to die before marriage, a skull would appear. The custom was widespread enough to be commemorated on greeting cards[139] from the late 19th century and early 20th century.

A common custom includes picking and purchasing pumpkins from patches

Another game/superstition that was enjoyed in the early 1900s involved walnut shells. People would write fortunes in milk on white paper. After drying, the paper was folded and placed in walnut shells. When the shell was warmed, milk would turn brown therefore the writing would appear on what looked like blank paper. Folks would also play fortune teller. In order to play this game, symbols were cut out of paper and placed on a platter. Someone would enter a dark room and was ordered to put her hand on a piece of ice then lay it on a platter. Her "fortune" would stick to the hand. Paper symbols included: dollar sign-wealth, button-bachelorhood, thimble-spinsterhood, clothespin- poverty, rice-wedding, umbrella- journey, caldron-trouble, 4-leaf clover- good luck, penny-fortune, ring-early marriage, and key-fame.[140]

The telling of ghost stories and viewing of horror films are common fixtures of Halloween parties. Episodes of television series and Hallowe'en-themed specials (with the specials usually aimed at children) are commonly aired on or before Halloween, while new horror films are often released theatrically before Halloween to take advantage of the atmosphere.

Haunted attractions[edit]

Humorous tombstones in front of a house in California

Haunted attractions are entertainment venues designed to thrill and scare patrons. Most attractions are seasonal Halloween businesses. Origins of these paid scare venues are difficult to pinpoint, but it is generally accepted that they were first commonly used by the Junior Chamber International (Jaycees) for fundraising.[141] They include haunted houses, corn mazes, and hayrides,[142] and the level of sophistication of the effects has risen as the industry has grown. Haunted attractions in the United States bring in an estimate $300–500 million each year, and draw some 400,000 customers, although press sources writing in 2005 speculated that the industry had reached its peak at that time.[141] This maturing and growth within the industry has led to technically more advanced special effects and costuming, comparable with that of Hollywood films.[143]

Food[edit]

Pumpkins for sale during Halloween

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 rumors that some individuals were embedding items like pins and razor blades in the apples in the United States.[144] While there is evidence of such incidents,[145] 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.[146]

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.

List of foods associated with Halloween:

Religious observances[edit]

The Vigil of All Hallows' is being celebrated at an Episcopal Christian church on Hallowe'en.

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 remind their congregants to remember the dead on All Hallows' Eve.[147] In Ireland, and among immigrants in Canada, a custom includes the Christian practice of abstinence, keeping All Hallows' Eve "as a meatless day with pancakes or Callcannon" being served instead.[148] In Mexico, on "All Hallows Eve, the children make a children's altar to invite the angelitos (spirits of dead children) to come back for a visit."[149] 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."[150] This church service is known as the Vigil of All Hallows or the Vigil of All Saints;[151][152] an initiative known as Night of Light seeks to further spread the Vigil of All Hallows throughout Christendom.[153][154] 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.[155][156] In Finland, because so many people visit the cemeteries on All Hallows' Eve to light votive candles there, they "are known as valomeri, or seas of light."[157]

Perspectives[edit]

Christianity[edit]

Halloween Scripture Candy with gospel tract

Christian attitudes towards Halloween are diverse. In the Anglican Church, some dioceses have chosen to emphasize the Christian traditions associated with All Hallow's Eve.[158][159] Some of these practises include praying, fasting and attending worship services.[1][2][3]

Father, All-Powerful and Ever-Living God, today we rejoice in the holy men and women of every time and place. May their prayers bring us your forgiveness and love. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen. —All Hallow's Eve Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours[160]

Votive candles in the Halloween section of Wal-Mart

Other Protestant Christians also celebrate All Hallows' Eve as Reformation Day, a day to remember the Protestant Reformation, alongside All Hallow's Eve or independently from it.[161][162] This is because Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to All Saints' Church in Wittenberg on All Hallows' Eve, because hundreds of visitors would come to the church during the celebration of Allhallowtide.[163] Often, "Harvest Festivals" or "Reformation Festivals" are held on All Hallows' Eve, in which children dress up as Bible characters or Reformers.[164] In addition to distributing candy to children who are trick-or-treating on Hallowe'en, many Christians also provide gospel tracts to them. One organization, the American Tract Society, stated that around 3 million gospel tracts are ordered from them alone for Hallowe'en celebrations.[165] Others order Halloween-themed Scripture Candy to pass out to children on this day.[166]

Belizean children dressed up as Biblical figures and Christian saints

Some Christians feel concerned about the modern celebration of Halloween because they feel it trivializes – or celebrates – paganism, the occult, or other practices and cultural phenomena deemed incompatible with their beliefs.[167] Father Gabriele Amorth, an exorcist in Rome, has said, "if English and American children like to dress up as witches and devils on one night of the year that is not a problem. If it is just a game, there is no harm in that."[168] In more recent years, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has organized a "Saint Fest" on Halloween.[169] Similarly, many contemporary Protestant churches view Halloween as a fun event for children, holding events in their churches where children and their parents can dress up, play games, and get candy for free. Many Christians ascribe no negative significance to Halloween, treating it as a fun event devoted to "imaginary spooks" and handing out candy. To these Christians, Halloween holds no threat to the spiritual lives of children: being taught about death and mortality, and the ways of the Celtic ancestors actually being a valuable life lesson and a part of many of their parishioners' heritage.[170]

In the Roman Catholic Church, Halloween's Christian connection is cited, and Halloween celebrations are common in Catholic parochial schools throughout North America and in Ireland.[171] Many fundamentalist and evangelical churches use "Hell houses", themed pamphlets, or comic-style tracts such as those created by Jack T. Chick in order to make use of Halloween's popularity as an opportunity for evangelism.[169] Some consider Halloween to be completely incompatible with the Christian faith due to its putative origins in the Festival of the Dead celebration.[172] Indeed, even though Eastern Orthodox Christians observe All Hallows' Day on the First Sunday after Pentecost, the Eastern Orthodox Church recommends the observance of Vespers and/or a Paraklesis on the Western observance of All Hallows' Eve, out of the pastoral need to provide an alternative to popular celebrations.[173]

Other religions[edit]

The reaction of non-Christian religions towards Halloween has often been mixed, ranging from stern disapproval to the allowance of participation in it. According to Alfred J. Kolatch in the Second Jewish Book of Why, in Judaism, Halloween is not permitted by Jewish Halakha because it violates Leviticus 18:3 which forbids Jews from partaking in gentile customs. Many Jews observe Yizkor, which is equivalent to the observance of Allhallowtide in Christianity, as prayers are said for both "martyrs and for one's own family."[174] Nevertheless many American Jews celebrate Halloween, disconnected from its Christian origins.[175] Reform Rabbi Jeffrey Goldwasser has said that "There is no religious reason why contemporary Jews should not celebrate Halloween" while Orthodox Rabbi Michael Broyde has argued against Jews observing the holiday.[176] Sheikh Idris Palmer, author of A Brief Illustrated Guide to Understanding Islam , has argued that Muslims should not participate in Halloween, stating that "participation in it is similar to one commemorating Christmas or Easter, or congratulating the Christians upon their prostration to the crucifix".[177] Javed Memon, a Muslim writer, has disagreed, saying that his "daughter dressing up like a British telephone booth will not destroy her faith".[178] Most Hindus do not observe All Hallows' Eve, instead remembering the dead in the festival of Pitru Paksha, during which Hindus pay homage to and perform a ceremony "to keep the souls of their ancestors at rest."[179] The celebration of the Hindu festival Diwali sometimes conflicts with the date of Halloween; but some Hindus choose to participate in the popular customs of Halloween.[180] Other Hindus, such as Soumya Dasgupta, have opposed the celebration on the grounds that Western holidays like Halloween have "begun to adversely affect our indigenous festivals."[181] Neopagans do not observe Halloween, but instead observe Samhain on 1 November,[182] although some neopagan individuals choose to participate in cultural Halloween festivities, opining the idea that one can observe both "the solemnity of Samhain in addition to the fun of Halloween." Other neopagans are opposed to the celebration of Halloween, believing that it "trivializes Samhain",[183] and "avoid Halloween, because of the interruptions from trick or treaters."[184] The Manitoban writes that "Wiccans don’t officially celebrate Halloween, despite the fact that 31 Oct. will still have a star beside it in any good Wiccan’s day planner. Starting at sundown, Wiccans celebrate a holiday known as Samhain. Samhain actually comes from old Celtic traditions and is not exclusive to Neopagan religions like Wicca. While the traditions of this holiday originate in Celtic countries, modern day Wiccans don’t try to historically replicate Samhain celebrations. Some traditional Samhain rituals are still practised but at its core, the holiday is simply a time to celebrate darkness and the dead — a possible reason why Samhain is often confused with Halloween celebrations."[182]

Around the world[edit]

A Halloween display in Saitama, Japan

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.[185][186] In Brittany children would set candles in skulls in graveyards.[187] 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,[188] New Zealand,[189] (most) continental Europe, Japan, and other parts of East Asia.[190] In the Philippines, on the night of Halloween, Filipinos return to their hometowns and purchase candles and flowers,[191] in preparation for the following All Saints Day and All Souls Day (Araw ng Patay) on 1 November.[192]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "BBC – Religions – Christianity: All Hallows' Eve". British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). 2010. Retrieved 1 November 2011. "All Hallows' Eve falls on 31st October each year, and is the day before All Hallows' Day, also known as All Saints' Day in the Christian calendar. The Church traditionally held a vigil on All Hallows' Eve when worshippers would prepare themselves with prayers and fasting prior to the feast day itself. The name derives from the Old English 'hallowed' meaning holy or sanctified and is now usually contracted to the more familiar word Hallowe'en." 
  2. ^ a b The Book of Occasional Services 2003. Church Publishing, Inc. 2004. Retrieved 31 October 2011. "Service for All Hallows' Eve: This service may be used on the evening of October 31, known as All Hallows' Eve. Suitable festivities and entertainments may take place before or after this service, and a visit may be made to a cemetery or burial place." 
  3. ^ a b Anne E. Kitch (2004). The Anglican Family Prayer Book. Church Publishing, Inc. Retrieved 31 October 2011. "All Hallow's Eve, which later became known as Halloween, is celebrated on the night before All Saints' Day, November 1. Use this simple prayer service in conjunction with Halloween festivities to mark the Christian roots of this festival." 
  4. ^ The Paulist Liturgy Planning Guide. Paulist Press. 2006. Retrieved 31 October 2011. "Rather than compete, liturgy planners would do well to consider ways of including children in the celebration of these vigil Masses. For example, children might be encouraged to wear Halloween costumes representing their patron saint or their favorite saint, clearly adding a new level of meaning to the Halloween celebrations and the celebration of All Saints' Day." 
  5. ^ Thomas Thomson, Charles Annandale (1896). A History of the Scottish People from the Earliest Times: From the Union of the kingdoms, 1706, to the present time. Blackie. Retrieved 31 October 2011. "Of the stated rustic festivals peculiar to Scotland the most important was Hallowe'en, a contraction for All-hallow Evening, or the evening of All-Saints Day, the annual return of which was a season for joy and festivity." 
  6. ^ Palmer, Abram Smythe (1882). Folk-etymology. Johnson Reprint. p. 6. 
  7. ^ a b Merriam-Webster's Encyclopædia of World Religions. Merriam-Webster. 1999. Retrieved 31 October 2011. "Halloween, also called All Hallows' Eve, holy or hallowed evening observed on October 31, the eve of All Saints' Day. The pre-Christian observances influenced the Christian festival of All Hallows' Eve, celebrated on the same date." 
  8. ^ NEDCO Producers' Guide. 31-33. Northeast Dairy Cooperative Federation. 1973. "Originally celebrated as the night before All Saints' Day, Christians chose November first to honor their many saints. The night before was called All Saints' Eve or hallowed eve meaning holy evening." 
  9. ^ "Tudor Hallowtide". National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty. 2012. "Hallowtide covers the three days – 31 October (All-Hallows Eve or Hallowe'en), 1 November (All Saints) and 2 November (All Souls)." 
  10. ^ Don't Know Much About Mythology: Everything You Need to Know About the Greatest Stories in Human History but Never Learned (Davis), HarperCollins, page 231
  11. ^ Portaro, Sam (25 January 1998). A Companion to the Lesser Feasts and Fasts. Cowley Publications. p. 199. ISBN 1461660513. "All Saints' Day is the centerpiece of an autumn triduum. In the carnival celebrations of All Hallows' Eve our ancestors used the most powerful weapon in the human arsenal, the power of humor and ridicule to confront the power of death. The following day, in the commemoration of All Saints, we gave witness to the victory of incarnate goodness embodied in remarkable deeds and doers triumphing over the misanthropy of darkness and devils. And in the commemoration of All Souls we proclaimed the hope of common mortality expressed in our aspirations and expectations of a shared eternity." 
  12. ^ "BBC – Religions – Christianity: All Hallows' Eve". British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). 2010. Retrieved 1 November 2011. "It is widely believed that many Hallowe'en traditions have evolved from an ancient Celtic festival called Samhain which was Christianised by the early Church." 
  13. ^ "Halloween." History.com. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  14. ^ Nicholas Rogers (2002). Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 31 October 2011. "Halloween and the Day of the Dead share a common origin in the Christian commemoration of the dead on All Saints' and All Souls' Day. But both are thought to embody strong pre-Christian beliefs. In the case of Halloween, the Celtic celebration of Samhain is critical to its pagan legacy, a claim that has been foregrounded in recent years by both new-age enthusiasts and the evangelical Right." 
  15. ^ Austrian information. 1965. Retrieved 31 October 2011. "The feasts of Hallowe'en, or All Hallows Eve and the devotions to the dead on All Saints' and All Souls' Day are both mixtures of old Celtic, Druid and other heathen customs intertwined with Christian practice." 
  16. ^ "BBC – Religions – Christianity: All Hallows' Eve". British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). 2010. Retrieved 1 November 2011. "The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions also claims that Hallowe'en "absorbed and adopted the Celtic new year festival, the eve and day of Samhain". However, there are supporters of the view that Hallowe'en, as the eve of All Saints' Day, originated entirely independently of Samhain and some question the existence of a specific pan-Celtic religious festival which took place on 31st October/1st November." 
  17. ^ Rogers, Nicholas (2003). Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night. Oxford University Press. p. 22. ISBN 9780195168969. "Festivals commemorating the saints as opposed to the original Christian martyrs appear to have been observed by 800. In England and Germany, this celebration took place on 1st November. In Ireland, it was commemorated on 20th April, a chronology that contradicts the widely held view that the November date was chosen to Christianize the festival of Samhain." 
  18. ^ Skog, Jason (2008). Teens in Finland. Capstone. p. 31. ISBN 9780756534059. "Most funerals are Lutheran, and nearly 98 percent of all funerals take place in a church. It is customary to take pictures of funerals or even videotape them. To Finns, death is a part of the cycle of life, and a funeral is another special occasion worth remembering. In fact, during All Hallow's Eve and Christmas Eve, cemeteries are known as valomeri, or seas of light. Finns visit cemeteries and light candles in remembrance of the deceased." 
  19. ^ "All Hallows Eve Service". Duke University. 31 October 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2014. "About All Hallows Eve: Tonight is the eve of All Saints Day, the festival in the Church that recalls the faith and witness of the men and women who have come before us. The service celebrates our continuing communion with them, and memorializes the recently deceased. The early church followed the Jewish custom that a new day began at sundown; thus, feasts and festivals in the church were observed beginning on the night before." 
  20. ^ "The Christian Observances of Halloween". National Republic (Indiana University Press) 15: 33. 5 May 2009. "Among the European nations the beautiful custom of lighting candles for the dead was always a part of the "All Hallow's Eve" festival." 
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    Other young goblins and ghosts, employing modern shakedown methods, successfully worked the "trick or treat" system in all parts of the city.

    "The Gangsters of Tomorrow", The Helena Independent (Helena, Montana), 2 November 1934, p. 4:

    Pretty Boy John Doe rang the door bells and his gang waited his signal. It was his plan to proceed cautiously at first and give a citizen every opportunity to comply with his demands before pulling any rough stuff. "Madam, we are here for the usual purpose, 'trick or treat.'" This is the old demand of the little people who go out to have some innocent fun. Many women have some apples, cookies or doughnuts for them, but they call rather early and the "treat" is given out gladly.

    The Chicago Tribune also mentioned door-to-door begging in Aurora, Illinois on Halloween in 1934, although not by the term "trick-or-treating." "Front Views and Profiles" (column), Chicago Tribune, 3 November 1934, p. 17.
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  153. ^ "Night of Light Beginnings". Cor et Lumen Christi Community. Retrieved 2 November 2012. "In its first year - 2000 AD - over 1000 people participated from several countries. This included special All Saints Vigil masses, extended periods of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and parties for children. In our second year 10,000 participated. Since these modest beginnings, the Night of Light has been adopted in many countries around the world with vast numbers involved each year from a Cathedral in India to a convent in New Zealand; from Churches in the USA and Europe to Africa; in Schools, churches, homes and church halls all ages have got involved. Although it began in the Catholic Church it has been taken up be other Christians who while keeping it's essentials have adapted it to suit their own traditions." 
  154. ^ "Here's to the Soulcakers going about their mysterious mummery". The Telegraph. Retrieved 6 November 2012. "One that has grown over the past decade is the so-called Night of Light, on All Hallows’ Eve, October 31. It was invented in 2000, in leafy Chertsey, Surrey, when perhaps 1,000 people took part. Now it is a worldwide movement, popular in Africa and the United States. The heart of the Night of Light is an all-night vigil of prayer, but there is room for children’s fun too: sweets, perhaps a bonfire and dressing up as St George or St Lucy. The minimum gesture is to put a lighted candle in the window, which is in itself too exciting for some proponents of health and safety. The inventor of the Night of Light is Damian Stayne, the founder of a year-round religious community called Cor et Lumen Christi – heart and light of Christ. This new movement is Catholic, orthodox and charismatic – emphasising the work of the Holy Spirit." 
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