Halloween, also called Hallowe’en (a contraction for “All Hallows’ night”), is a celebration that’s observed in many countries on 31 Oct, the eve the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ day. This marks the beginning of Allhallowtide. It is the liturgical year’s time for remembering the dead, saints (hallows), martyrs and all the departed.
One theory suggests that Halloween was influenced by Celtic harvest festivals, especially the Gaelic festival Samhain. Others suggest that Samhain could have been Christianized by the early Church as All Hallow’s Day and its eve. Others believe that Halloween originated solely as an All Hallow’s Day vigil. In Ireland and Scotland, Halloween is celebrated in 19th-century Ireland and Scotland. American immigrants brought many Halloween traditions to North America. Then, through American influence Halloween spread to many other countries in the 21st century.
Trick-or-treating, or the related guising, souling, Halloween activities include Halloween costume parties, pumpkin carving, apple bobbing and divination games. While All Hallows Eve is still a popular Christian religious celebration, some people prefer to attend church services or light candles on the graves. Some Christians have abstained historically from eating meat on All Hallows Eve. This tradition is reflected in certain vegetarian foods such as apples, potato pancakes and soul cakes.
Table of Contents
- 1 Etymology
- 2 History
- 3 Symbols
- 4 Trick-or-treating
- 5 Costumes
- 6 Games and other activities
- 7 Haunted attractions
- 8 Food
- 9 Christian religious observances
- 10 Analogous celebrations or perspectives
- 11 All over the globe
The Halloween and Hallowe’en words date back to 1745. They are both Christian in origin. Hallowe’en is a term that means “Saints’ evening”. It is a Scottish term that refers to All Hollows’ Eve (the night before All Hallows’ Day). Scots use Eve to refer to even. This is then contracted to E’en and E’en. (All), Hallow(s), E(v)en has evolved to Hallowe’en. The phrase “All Hallows” is in Old English. However, the term “All Hallows’ Eve”, however, was not discovered until 1556.
It is believed that Halloween originated Christian dogma, and the practices that were derived from it. Halloween’s name comes from All Hallows’ Eve, which is the night before All Saints’ and Hallowmas Christian holy days. The vigils that started the night before major Christian feasts (e.g., Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost) have been a part of Christianity since the beginning of time. These days, collectively known as Allhallowtide, are a time to honor the saints and pray for those who have yet reached Heaven. Several churches held commemorations of all martyrs and saints on different dates, most often in springtime. Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome to “St Mary, and all martyrs” in 609. This was also the date of Lemuria (an ancient Roman festival for the dead) and the date of the commemoration in Edessa of all saints during the time of Saint Ephrem.
The Western Church’s feast of All Hallows’ can be traced back to Pope Gregory III’s (731-7411) establishment of an oratory at St Peter’s for the relics of “the holy apostles and all saints, martyrs, and confessors”. Some sources claim it was dedicated on the 1st of November while others believe it was dedicated on Palm Sunday. There is evidence to suggest that Northumbria and Ireland held a feast in honor of all saints on November 1, according to 800. Alcuin of Northumbria may have introduced the Frankish Empire’s 1 November date to Charlemagne’s court. It became the official date of the Frankish Empire in 835. Many believe this is due to Celtic influence. Others suggest that it was a Germanic idea. However, it is claimed that both Germanic- and Celtic-speaking peoples remember the dead at winter’s beginning. It may have been the best time because it is a time for ‘dying’ in natural history. The change may have been made because Rome was too hot in summer to accommodate all the pilgrims that flocked there. It could also be due to public health concerns about Roman Fever which claimed many lives during Rome’s hot summers.
They had been made holy days of obligation in Europe by the end of 12th century and included traditions such as the ringing of church bells for souls going to purgatory. It was also customary for criers to wear black and parade the streets, ringing the bell of sorrowful sound, calling on all Christians to remember the poor souls. The origin of trick-or treating is “Souling”, a custom that involves baking and sharing soul cakes with all christened souls. This custom is believed to have originated in England, Flanders and Germany, and can be found in Austria, Germany, Austria, and Flanders. During Allhallowtide, groups of poor people (often children) would go door to door collecting soul cakes in return for prayers for the dead. Soul cakes could also be offered to the souls, or their representatives. Soul cakes, like hot cross buns in Lenten, were marked with a cross to indicate that they were alms baked. Shakespeare’s comedy The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1593) mentions souling. Prince Sorie Conteh, a Christian minister, wrote that costumes were a custom. He stated: “It was traditional believed that souls wandered the earth up to All Saints Day and All Hallows Eve provided one final chance for the dead of taking vengeance against their enemies before moving on to the next realm.” People would wear masks and costumes to hide their identities from any soul who might seek such vengeance.
According to legend, in the Middle Ages, when churches were too poor for Allhallowtide displays of martyred saints’ relics, parishioners dressed up as saints. This custom is still observed by some Christians today at Halloween. Lesley Bannatyne thinks this could be a Christianization a pagan tradition. Christians would bring with them hollowed-out turnips as “lanterns” while souling. According to some, the Jack-o-lantern was originally used to represent the souls and spirits of the dead. To ward off evil spirits, fires were lit at night on Halloween. In Austria, England, and Ireland, “candles” were lit in every room to guide souls to their earthly homes. These candles were called “soul lights”. These were known as “soul lights” in Europe. Rosamond McKitterick and Christopher Allmand write in The New Cambridge Medieval History, that the danse Macabre encouraged Christians to “not forget the end of all things earthly.” The danse macrobre was often performed at village pageants or court masques. People “dressed up as corpses of various strata of society”, which may have been the inspiration for Halloween costume parties.
These customs were attacked in parts of Britain during the Reformation when some Protestants criticized purgatory for being a “popish doctrine” that was not compatible with their predestination view. For some Nonconformist Protestants this meant that the All Hallows Eve theology was redefined. “The returning souls can’t be travelling from Purgatory to Heaven as Catholics often believe and claim. The ghosts are believed to be evil spirits. They are dangerous as such. Others believed in Hades (Bosom of Abraham), an intermediate state. They continued to observe souling and candlelit procesions, and ringing church bells for the memory of the deceased. Professor of medieval archaeology Mark Donnelly and historian Daniel Diehl wrote that “barns were blessed to protect people, livestock, and from the effects of witches. They were believed to be accompanying the malignant spirits on their journeys across the earth.”
Catholic families from rural Lancashire gathered in hills to celebrate All Hallows Eve in the 19th century. One man held a bundle of straw and a pitchfork, while others knelt around him praying for the souls. This was called teen’lay. Similar customs were observed in Hertfordshire and Derbyshire. Tindle fires were also lit in Derbyshire. These ‘tindles,’ some suggest, were lit originally to “guide the poor souls to earth”. Guy Fawkes Night (5 Nov) took many Halloween traditions and made Halloween less popular in England. The Scottish kirk, who had been celebrating Samhain since the Middle Ages, took a pragmatic approach to Halloween. They saw it as an integral part of the life cycle and rites for passage of the communities, and helped ensure its survival.
Some Christian families set down milk dishes for their loved ones on All Hallows Eve in France. Some families in Italy left a meal for their relatives before they went to church. They continue to bake “bones of Holy” pastries in Spain (Spanish: Huesos de Santo), and then place them on graves.
The Celtic-speaking countries are thought to have influenced today’s Halloween traditions. Some of these beliefs are also believed to have pagan roots. Jack Santino, a folklorist writes that there was a “uneasy truce” in Ireland between beliefs and customs associated with Christianity and religions that existed before Christianity arrived. Nicholas Rogers, a historian, notes that Halloween’s origins can be attributed to the Gaelic Samhain festival.
Samhain was one of three quarter days of the medieval Gaelic calendar. It was celebrated in Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man on 31 October and 1 November. The Brittonic Celts held a kindred festival, Calan Gaeaf (in Wales), Kalan Gwav (in Cornwall) and Kalan Goanv (in Brittany). This name means “first day of Winter”. According to the Celts, the day ended at sunset and the festival began on the evening of 1 November according to modern reckoning. Some of the earliest Irish literature mentions Samhain. Historical writers used the names to refer to Celtic Halloween customs until the 19th Century. They are still the Gaelic or Welsh names for Halloween.
Samhain was the end of harvest season and the beginning of winter, or the ‘darker halves’ of the year. This was a liminal period, when the line between the worlds of this and the Otherworld began to thin. The Si, or the “spirits” or “fairies”, could easily enter this world, and they were especially active. They are considered “degraded” versions of the ancient gods […], whose power was retained in people’s minds long after they were officially replaced by later religious beliefs. They were respected and feared by both men and women, with many people invoking God’s protection when they approached their homes. The Si were appeased at Samhain to ensure that the livestock and people survived winter. They were also given food and drink offerings, or portions of crops. It was also believed that the souls of the deceased would return to their homes in search of hospitality. To welcome them, they were greeted at the table and around the fire. It is believed that the souls or the deceased return home one night a year, and must be pacified. This belief has been around for many centuries and can be found in many cultures. In 19th-century Ireland, candles were lit and prayers for the souls the dead were offered. Then, the fun began: eating, drinking and playing.
In Britain and Ireland, household celebrations included divination rituals and games that were meant to predict one’s future, particularly regarding death or marriage. Many customs involved apples and nuts, such as apple bobbing, nut roasting and scrying or mirror-gazing. They also included pouring molten lead or eggs whites into water and dream interpretation. There were special bonfires lit, and rituals that involved them. The ashes, smoke, and flames of the bonfires were believed to have cleansing and protective powers. They were also used for divination. To protect homes and fields, some people carried torches from the bonfire around their houses and fields. The fires may have been a form of sympathetic magic or imitation – they mimicked sunlight and prevented winter’s decay and darkness. These divination games and bonfires were banned in Scotland by some church elders. Bonfires were lit in Wales to “prevent the souls and bodies of the deceased from falling to the earth”. These bonfires were later used to “keep away the devil”.
The festival was celebrated in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man since at least 16 centuries. People would go house to house in disguise or costume, reciting verses and songs in return for food. This tradition may have originated from a tradition in which people impersonated the Si or the souls and received offerings for their sake, similar to’souling. It was believed that one could protect himself from these entities by impersonating them or hiding behind a mask. The guisers were often accompanied by a hobby horse in parts of southern Ireland. In exchange for food, a man dressed up as a Lair Bhan (white horse) led youths from house to house reciting verses. The household that donated food could be assured good fortune. Failure to do so would result in misfortune. Youths in Scotland used to go house-to-house wearing masks, blackened or painted faces and threatened to cause trouble if they weren’t welcomed. F. Marian McNeill suggests that the ancient festival featured people dressed up as spirits and their faces were blackened or marked with ashes from a sacred bonfire. Men dressed up as fearsome creatures called gwrachod in parts of Wales. Young people from Glamorgan and Orkney wore cross-dressing in the late 19th and early twentieth centuries.
Mumming is a part of many European festivals. However, in Celtic-speaking countries, it was considered “especially appropriate” for a night when supernatural beings were believed to be out of the country and could be imitated by humans or warded off. Since at least the 18th Century, “imitating malignant spirits” has been a way to play pranks in Ireland or the Scottish Highlands. In the 20th century, Halloween pranks and costumes were popular in England. Pranksters made lanterns from hollowed-out turnips and mangel wurzels. Many were carved with bizarre faces. The lanterns were believed to be spirits or protection from evil spirits by the people who made them. They were popular in Ireland, the Scottish Highlands and Somerset in the 19th century (see Punkie Night). They became well-known as Jack-o’-lanterns in England after they were introduced to other parts of England in the 20th century.
Spread to North America
Cindy Ott and Lesley Bannatyne write that Anglican colonists from the south and Catholic colonists from Maryland “recognized All Hallow’s Eve” in their church calendars, despite the fact that the Puritans of New England were opposed to the holiday and other traditional celebrations of established Church, such as Christmas. The late 18th- and early 19th-century Almanacs do not indicate that Halloween was popular in North America.
Halloween was made a major American holiday only after the mass immigration of Irish and Scottish immigrants in the 19th century. The majority of American Halloween traditions are inherited from the Irish or Scots. However, “In Cajun regions, a nocturnal Mass was held in cemeteries on Halloween night. Families spent the night at the graveside, lighting candles that had been blessed. It was originally restricted to immigrant communities. However, it became more mainstream and celebrated across the country by people from all walks of life. These Halloween traditions were then spread by Americans, including to mainland Europe, thanks to American influence.
Over time, artifacts and symbols that are associated with Halloween have been developed. To scare away evil spirits, Jack-o”-lanterns were traditionally carried by guisers on Halloween. A popular Irish Christian folktale is associated with the Jack-o’-lantern. It is believed to be a soul who has been denied entry to both heaven and hell.
Jack, after a night of drinking, is on his way home when he encounters the Devil. He tricks him into climbing up a tree. Quick-thinking Jack engraves the sign of a cross onto the bark to trap the Devil. Jack makes a deal with Satan that Satan will never be able to claim his soul. Jack dies after a life filled with sin, drink, and mischief. The Devil refuses Jack entry to hell, and throws a live coke straight from hell’s fires at him. Jack placed the coal in a hollowed-out turnip to keep it from burning out. Since then Jack and his lantern have wandered aimlessly looking for somewhere to rest.
The turnip is traditionally carved in Ireland and Scotland during Halloween. However, immigrants to North America used the native pumpkin which is much more soft and larger than the turnip, making it much easier to carve. American pumpkin carving tradition dates back to 1837. It was first associated with harvest, but it wasn’t until the middle-to-late 19th centuries that Halloween became a part of American culture.
The modern Halloween imagery comes from many sources: Christian eschatology and national customs. There are also works of Gothic literature and horror literature, such as the novels Frankenstein, Dracula, and classic horror films like The Mummy. The skull image, a reference in Christian tradition to Golgotha, is used as a “reminder of death and the transitory nature of human life”. It can be found in memento Mori and Vanitas compositions. Skulls are also common in Halloween, which touches upon this theme. The back walls of churches have been decorated with the Last Judgment depiction, which includes graves opening and dead rising with a heaven full of angels and hell filled with devils. This motif has been a constant in the practice of this triduum. John Mayne (1780-1785) was the first to write about Halloween. He noted that there were many pranks. “, and the supernatural associated with Halloween, “Bogies (ghosts),” influenced Robert Burns’ “Halloween”. (1785). There are many elements of autumn, including scarecrows and corn husks. These symbols are common decorations for Halloween. These Halloween images often depict themes of evil, death, and mythical creatures. Black cats, long associated with witches and other evil spirits, are a popular symbol for Halloween. Halloween’s traditional colors are black, orange, and sometimes purple.
Trick-or-treating is an annual Halloween tradition. Children dress up in costumes and go from one house to the next asking for candy, money, or both. If no treat is received, the word “tricks” means that there is a threat to inflict mischief on homeowners or their property. This practice is believed to be rooted in medieval mumming, closely linked to souling. John Pymm stated that many of the feasts associated with the presentation mumming plays were observed by the Christian Church. These feast days included Christmas, All Hallows’ Eve and Twelfth Night. Mumming was a practice in Germany, Scandinavia, and other parts Europe. It involved masked people in fancy dresses who “paraded streets and entered homes to dance or dice in silence”.
From the medieval period to the 1930s in England, souling was a Christian practice. This involved soulers from both Protestant and Catholic going from one parish to the next, asking the wealthy for soul cakes. In return for praying for the souls the givers as well as their friends, Pangangaluwa is a Filipino practice of souling. It is performed in rural areas on All Hallow’s Eve. To represent their souls, people dress up in white cloths and visit homes to sing and exchange sweets and prayers.
Guising is a Halloween tradition in Ireland and Scotland. It involves children dressed up as ghosts, going door to door looking for food or coins. In Scotland, it was recorded that at Halloween 1895, masqueraders dressed in turnip-scooped lanterns visited homes to receive cakes, money, and fruit. The most common phrase that children used to shout in Ireland was “Help the Halloween Party” (until the 2000s). North American guising at Halloween is first documented in 1911 by a Kingston newspaper, Ontario, Canada. Children were “guising” in the neighbourhood.
Ruth Edna Kelley, an American historian and author from Massachusetts, wrote the first book-length history of Halloween (1919). She also references souling in Chapter “Hallowe’en In America”. Kelley discusses customs that were brought in from the Atlantic. She says “Americans have nurtured them, and are making it an occasion similar to what it was in its best days abroad.” All American Halloween traditions are either borrowed from other countries or modified from them.
The first mention of “guising” in North America is in 1911. A second reference to ritual begging for Halloween occurs in 1915. Chicago also has a reference in 1920. In the Blackie Herald of Alberta, Canada, 1927 is the first time the term “trick of treat” was printed in print.
Many of the thousands of Halloween postcards that were produced between 1920 and 20 century often depict children, but not trick-or treating. Trick-or-treating is not a common practice in North America. It was first mentioned in the United States in 1934. The first national publication used the term in 1939.
Trunk-or-treating is a popular form of trick-or treating. It involves children receiving treats from trunks of cars that are parked in a parking lot of a church or school. A trunk-or-treat is an event where each car’s trunk (or boot) is decorated with a specific theme. This could be literature, movies, scripture, or job roles. Because trunk-or-treating is perceived as safer than going door-to-door, it has gained popularity. This appeals to parents as well as the fact that “it solves the rural conundrum in that homes are built half-mile apart”, which has also helped to increase its popularity.
Costumes for Halloween were traditionally inspired by devils, ghosts and skeletons. The costume collection has expanded to include celebrities and popular characters as well as generic archetypes like ninjas or princesses.
Costumes and “guising” were a popular Halloween tradition in Ireland and Scotland in the late 19th century. The tradition is known as “guising”, a Scottish term. This is because of the costumes or disguises worn by the children. The masks are called ‘false face’ in Ireland. In the US, Halloween costumes became very popular during the 20th century. This was when trick-or treating was popularized in Canada and the USA in the 1920s and 30s.
In his book Halloween. Hallowed is Thy name, Eddie J. Smith offers a religious view of the wearing of costumes during All Hallows. He suggests that people can make fun of Satan by dressing as “who once caused us to fear, tremble” and “whose kingdom was taken over by our Saviour”. Traditional decorations such as images of skeletons or the dead can be used as mementos mori.
“Trick-or Treat for UNICEF” is an annual fundraising campaign to support UNICEF. UNICEF is a United Nations Programme that provides humanitarian assistance to children in developing nations. The program was started in a Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood as a local event and expanded to a national level in 1952. It involves small boxes being distributed by schools or corporate sponsors like Hallmark at their licensed stores. These small boxes are then given to trick-or–treaters who can ask for small-change donations from houses that they visit. Since its inception, UNICEF has collected over $118 million from children. UNICEF Canada discontinued their Halloween collection boxes in 2006. This was due to safety and administrative concerns. Schools were consulted, and UNICEF redesigned the program.
In 1974, the New York’s Village Halloween Parade began. It is America’s largest Halloween parade. More than 60,000 people participate in it each year. There are two million spectators and an international television audience.
Ethnic stereotypes in costumes have come under increasing scrutiny in America since the late 2010s. These and other offensive costumes are being criticized more frequently.
Costumes for pets
According to the National Retail Federation’s 2018 report, Americans will spend $480 million on Halloween costumes in 2018. This is an increase of the $200 million spent on Halloween costumes in 2010 (which was only 200 million). This is an increase of $200 million from 2010.
Games and other activities
There are many Halloween-related games. Many of these games are based on divination rituals that foretell one’s future. These rituals were not common in rural areas during the Middle Ages as they were considered “deadly serious” and were only performed by a few. These divination games have become a “common feature of household festivities” in Britain and Ireland over the past century. These divination games often include hazelnuts and apples. Apples were strongly associated in Celtic mythology with immortality and the Otherworld, while hazelnuts were linked to divine wisdom. Others suggest they may be derived from Roman celebrations of Pomona.
These activities were common in Halloween celebrations in Britain and Ireland during the 17th-20th century. These activities have been popularized and are still very popular. Another variant of dunking is to sit down on a stool and hold a fork between your teeth, while trying to get the fork into the apple. A common game is to hang syrup-coated scones or treacle by strings. This must be eaten with your hands, and the string must remain attached. It will result in a sticky face. A small wooden rod suspended from the ceiling at the head height with a lit candle and an apple hanging from one end is another popular game. Everyone takes turns trying to catch the apple using their teeth by spinning the rod.
Many of the traditional British and Irish activities involve foretelling one’s future spouse or partner. The peel would be tossed over one shoulder and the apple would then be cut in one long piece. It is believed that the peel will land in the form of the first letter of the spouse’s future name. Two hazelnuts are roasted next to a fire, one for the person roasting them, and the other for their intended recipient. It is bad to see the nuts fluttering away from the heat. However, if they roast slowly, it can be a sign of a good match. The person would bake a salty oatmeal bannock and then eat three pieces before going to sleep. The dream is said to be a scenario in which the future spouse gives them water to quench their thirst. The unmarried woman was told that their future husband would be seen in a mirror if they were to sit in darkness and look into it on Halloween night. A skull would be revealed if the couple was destined to die prior to marriage. This custom was so common that it was included on greeting cards in the latter part of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Another Irish game is puicini, which means “blindfolds”. A person would be blindfolded to choose from a variety of saucers. The saucer’s contents would indicate their future. A ring would signify that they will marry soon; clay would signify that they will die within the year; water would signify that they will emigrate; and rosary beads would indicate that they will take Holy Orders (become nun, priest, monk etc. A coin would mean they would be rich, whereas a bean would indicate they would be poor. In the James Joyce short story Clay (1914), this game is prominently featured.
Items would be hidden in food in Ireland and Scotland. This is usually a cake or barmbrack, champ, colcannon, or champ. Then portions of the food would be distributed at random. The item that they found would predict a person’s future. For example, a ring could signify marriage while a coin could signify wealth.
The Halloween bonfires were used to divinate in Brittany, Wales, and Scotland up until the 19th Century. After the fire had died down, each person would receive a ring of stones in the ashes. If any stone was lost, it was said that it would be thrown away and the person it represented would die.
Halloween parties are a great time to tell ghost stories, listen to horror-themed songs, and watch scary movies. Television specials and episodes of Halloween-themed television series (which are usually directed at children) are common Halloween party activities. New horror films are often released prior to Halloween in order to take advantage.
Haunted attractions offer entertainment that is designed to scare and thrill patrons. Many attractions are seasonal Halloween businesses. They may include haunted homes, corn mazes, or hayrides. The sophistication of the effects has increased as the industry grows.
The Orton and Spooner Ghosthouse, the first purpose-built haunted attraction, opened in Liphook, England in 1915. The attraction is powered by steam and most closely resembles an arcade fun house. Hollycombe Steam Collection still has the House.
In America, haunted houses with Halloween themes first appeared in the 1930s. This was around the same time that trick-or-treating began. In the 1950s, haunted houses became a popular attraction. They were first focused on California. The San Mateo Haunted house was sponsored by the Children’s Health Home Junior Auxiliary and opened in 1957. In 1958, the San Bernardino Assistance League Haunted House was opened. In 1962 and 1963, home haunts were first discovered across the country. In 1964, San Manteo Haunted House and the Children’s Museum Haunted House were opened in Indianapolis.
The opening of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion on 12 August 1969, is the reason haunted houses are now cultural icons in America. Knott’s Scary Farm was the first Halloween night attraction to open at Knott’s Berry Farm. It opened in 1973. In 1972, the first “hell house” was opened by evangelical Christians.
In 1970, the Sycamore Deer Park Jaycees of Clifton, Ohio produced the first Halloween haunted house. The event was sponsored by WSAI, an AM radio station based out of Cincinnati, Ohio. It was last produced in 1982. After the Ohio house’s success, other Jaycees copied it and created their own versions. In 1976, the March of Dimes copiedrighted a “Mini Haunted House for March of Dimes” and started fundraising through local chapters with haunted houses shortly thereafter. Although they stopped supporting this type of event in the 1980s and 1990s, some March of Dimes haunted homes have continued to exist until today.
The Haunted Castle (Six Flags Great Adventure), which was located in Jackson Township, New Jersey on the 11th of May 1984 caught fire. Eight teenagers died as a result. In response to the tragedy, regulations regarding safety, building codes, and inspections of attractions across the country were tightened. Smaller venues, particularly non-profit attractions, couldn’t compete financially and were replaced by commercially funded businesses. Facilities that could be avoided regulation once were temporary installations and now must adhere to the stricter codes for permanent attractions.
The first theme parks were established in the 1980s and 1990s. Six Flags Fright Fest was established in 1986. Universal Studios Florida started Halloween Horror Nights in 1991. Due to America’s obsession about Halloween as a cultural holiday, Knott’s Scary Farm saw a rise in attendance in the 1990s. The theme parks played an important role in the globalization of Halloween. Universal Studios Japan and Universal Studios Singapore both participate. Disney also hosts Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party events in its parks in Paris and Hong Kong, Tokyo and the United States. These haunts are the most popular, in terms of both attendance and scale.
Many Western Christian denominations encourage vegetarianism on All Hallows Eve.
Because Halloween falls in the Northern Hemisphere, candy apples, also known as toffee apples, caramel apples, or taffy apple, are popular Halloween treats. They are made by rolling whole apples into a sticky sugar syrup and then rolling them in nuts.
Candy apples used to be a popular treat for trick-or-treating kids. However, this practice quickly ceased after widespread rumors spread that razor blades and pins were being embedded in apples from the United States. Although there are reports of these incidents, actual cases of malicious acts have not been reported. Many parents believed that these savage practices were common because of mass media. Some hospitals provided free X-rays to children’s Halloween candy hauls at the height of the panic. Almost all the candy poisoning cases that have been reported involved candy poisoning by parents.
Modern-day Ireland still has a tradition of baking a barmbrack, or more commonly, buying it. This is a light fruitcake into which are placed a plain ring, coin and other charms before baking. It is considered lucky to find it. A ring is believed to be the key to finding your true love. This is similar in concept to Epiphany’s tradition of eating king cakes.
Here’s a list of Halloween-related foods:
- Barmbrack (Ireland).
- Bonfire toffee (Great Britain).
- Toffee and candy apples (Great Britain and Ireland).
- North America: Candy apples, candy corn, and candy pumpkins
- Monkey nuts (peanuts inside their shells) (Ireland, Scotland).
- Caramel apples
- Caramel corn
- Colcannon (Ireland, see below)
- Halloween cake
- Novelty candy in the shape of skulls, pumpkins and bats.
- Pumpkin seeds roasted
- Sweet corn roasted
- Soul cakes
- Pumpkin Pie
Christian religious observances
Polish believers used to be taught to pray loudly on Hallowe’en (All Hallows’ Eve) in order for the souls of the deceased to find comfort. In Spain, small Christian villages ring their church bells to remind their congregation to remember the dead every All Hallows’ Eve. A custom in Ireland and Canada is to abstain from meat and serve pancakes or colcannon as an alternative. Mexico has children who make altars to welcome the spirits of their deceased children ( angelitos).
Traditional Hallowe’en was observed by the Christian Church through a vigil. Worshippers were prepared for the All Saints’ Day feast by fasting and praying. This church service is also known as the Vival of All Hallows, or the Vival of All Saints. An initiative called Night of Light aims to spread the Vigil of All Hallows across Christendom. Following the service, there are usually entertainments and suitable festivities. There is also a visit to the cemetery or graveyard, where flowers and candles can be placed in preparation for All Saints’ Day. Because so many people visit cemeteries on All-Hallows’ Eve in Finland to light votive candles, they are called Valomeri or “seas of light”.
There are many Christian attitudes to Halloween today. Some dioceses of the Anglican Church have chosen to highlight the Christian traditions associated All Hallow’s Eve. These practices include fasting, praying and attending worship services.
O LORD, our God, increase and multiply upon us the graces of thy grace, that those who prevent the glory festival of all thy Saints may be enabled to joyfully follow them in all virtue and godly living. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigneth alongside thee in the unity of The Holy Ghost, the ever-one God, the world without end. Amen. –Collect of All Saints Vigil Anglican Breviary
Other Protestant Christians celebrate All Hallows’ Eve also as Reformation Day. This day is a day to remember and commemorate the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther is believed to have nailed his Ninetyfive Theses at All Saints Church in Wittenberg on All Hollows’ Eve. On All Hallows Eve, children often dress up as Bible characters and Reformers at “Harvest Festivals” and “Reformation Festivals”. Many Christians distribute candy to trick-or-treaters on Hallowe’en. They also give them gospel tracts. The American Tract Society stated that they receive around 3 million gospel tracts each year for Hallowe’en celebrations. Other organizations order Halloween-themed Bible Candy to hand out to children.
Many Christians are concerned about Halloween’s modern celebration because it celebrates or trivializes paganism and other cultural phenomena that they consider incompatible with their faith. Father Gabriele Amorth from Rome, an exorcist, said that “if English or American children like to dress as witches or devils one night of each year, that is not a problem.” It doesn’t matter if it’s just a fun game. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston organized a Saint Fest on Halloween in recent years. Many Protestant churches today view Halloween as a family event. They host events where parents and children can dress up and play games. These Christians see Halloween as a fun event that does not threaten the spiritual lives of their children. They view the teaching of death and mortality and the Celtic ways as a valuable part of their parishioners’ heritage. Sam Portaro, a Christian minister, wrote Halloween is all about using humor and ridicule in order to confront the power that death has on us.
The Roman Catholic Church recognizes Halloween’s Christian connection. Halloween celebrations are a common event in many Catholic parochial schools across the United States. Fundamentalist and evangelical churches often use “Hell Houses” and comic-style tracts to capitalize on Halloween’s popularity and opportunity for evangelism. Some people consider Halloween incompatible with the Christian faith because of its supposed origins in the Festival of the Dead. Even though Eastern Orthodox Christians observe All Saints’ Day on Sunday after Pentecost on Sundays 1 and 2, the Eastern Orthodox Church recommends Vespers or Paraklesis for the Western observance. This is because it offers a pastoral alternative to the more popular celebrations.
Analogous celebrations or perspectives
Alfred J. Kolatch, in the Second Jewish Book of Why, states that Halloween is forbidden by Jewish Halakha. This violates Leviticus 18.3, which prohibits Jews from participating in gentile customs. Yizkor is observed by many Jews four times per year. This is somewhat similar to Allhallowtide, when prayers are offered for both the “martyrs” and the family members. Many American Jews still celebrate Halloween without any connection to its Christian roots. Jeffrey Goldwasser, a Reform Rabbi, stated that there is no reason for contemporary Jews not to celebrate Halloween. Michael Broyde, an Orthodox Rabbi has opposed Jews celebrating the holiday.
Sheikh Idris, the author of A Brief Illustrated Guide To Understanding Islam has declared that Muslims should not take part in Halloween. He stated that it was worse than participating in Christmas or Easter… and more sinful than congratulating Christians for their crucifixion. The National Fatwa Council of Malaysia ruled it to be haram due to its pagan roots. According to Sheikh Idris Palmer, Halloween is celebrated with humor mixed with horror in order to entertain and resist those who influence the spirit of death. Dar Al-Ifta Al-Missriyyah does not agree, provided that the celebration isn’t called an “eid” and that behavior remains consistent with Islamic principles.
Hindus remember their dead at the festival of Pitru Pksha. This is when Hindus pay homage and perform a ceremony to “keep the souls of our ancestors at peace”. It is usually celebrated in the Hindu month Bhadrapada in mid-September. Sometimes Diwali is celebrated on Halloween, but others Hindus opt to celebrate the Hindu festival. Soumya Dasgupta, a Hindu, has opposed the celebration, arguing that Western holidays such as Halloween “began to adversely impact our indigenous festivals”.
Many Neopagans and Wiccans have different views on Halloween. Some Neopagans don’t observe Halloween. They instead observe Samhain 1 November. However, some neopagans enjoy Halloween festivities. They state that you can enjoy both the solemnity and fun of Samhain. Some neopagans oppose Hallowe’en celebrations, claiming that it “trivializes Samhain” and “avoid Halloween because of the interruptions by trick-or-treaters”. The Manitoban wrote that “Wiccans do not celebrate Halloween.” This despite the fact 31 October will still have a star beside its name in any Wiccan’s calendar. Samhain is a Wiccan holiday that begins at sundown. Samhain is actually a Neopagan religion that has many similarities to old Celtic traditions. Although the Celtic traditions are still prevalent, Wiccans today don’t attempt to replicate these celebrations. While some Samhain rituals remain, at its core, Samhain is a time for celebrating darkness and the dead. This could be why Samhain may be mistaken with Halloween celebrations.
All over the globe
There are many countries that observe Halloween, and their traditions and significance vary. Traditional Halloween traditions in Ireland and Scotland include costumes, parties and “guising”. In Ireland, bonfire lighting and firework displays are common practices. Brittany’s children used to make practical jokes, setting candles in graveyard skulls to scare visitors. Halloween was popularized in North America by mass transatlantic immigration in 1921. Other countries have seen a marked change in how they celebrate the holiday. The greater North American influence, especially in commercial and iconic elements, has reached places like Ecuador, Chile and New Zealand.
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