The true origins of the Halloween holiday

Halloween is a holiday that takes place on the night of October the 31st.  The actual word Halloween is a shortening of "All Hallows" Evening, which has also been referred to as Hallowe'en or All Hallows' Eve.

The night of Halloween seems to be steadily rising in popularity across the world in the last 10 years. Traditional activities associated with Halloween are:
  • Trick-or-treats
  • Bonfires
  • Costume parties
  • Visiting "haunted houses"
  • Carving jack-o-lanterns
Irish and Scottish immigrants carried their own versions of the tradition to North America in the 19th Century. Western countries fully embraced the holiday in the late 20th Century including UK, Ireland, US, Canada, Puerto Rico, Australia, New Zealand, Cyprus and many other former British colonies.
Halloween takes its origins from the ancient Celtic festival called "Samhain".  In essence, the festival of Samhain celebrates the climax of the harvest season according to Gaelic culture. Samhain was traditionally a time used by the ancient pagans to organize supply stocks and prepare for the harsh winter ahead. The ancient Gaels visioned that on the 31st of October, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead somehow overlapped. They also believed that the deceased would come back to life and cause havoc such as sickness or damaged crops.

The Samhain festival often involved bonfires and it's believed that the light of the fire generated great insect activity, which in turn attracted Bats! Masks and costumes were worn in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or even to appease them.

Trick-or-treating today, is the is most common activity for children associated with Halloween. This fun game-like activity, typically takes place before or on Halloween night. Here, children move from house to house in scarey costumes, asking for treats such as sweets or chocolate, as they pop the question, "Trick or treat?" The "trick" part is a threat to play a trick on the homeowner or his property if no treat is given. It has become socially expected in most of the countries indicated above, that if one lives in a neighborhood with children, is necessary to purchase treats in preparation for the trick-or-treaters.