Halloween is a very special and unique kind of holiday enjoyed and celebrated all over the world. Halloween is celebrated on October 31st and falls on the night just before All Saints Day. Halloween is also known as All Hallows Evening, All Hallows Eve, or Halloween in English-speaking countries. It is equally popular in other European, South American, and Asian countries.
Historians attribute the origins of Halloween to an ancient Celtic (ancient Ireland and Scotland) ritual called Samhain. So, what is the meaning of Samhain? The name Samhain is derived from the ancient Irish word Samuin, which essentially means the end of summer. It was celebrated at the end of the harvest season, when time was utilized to prepare for winter by taking proper stock of supplies. In the Samhain rituals, bonfires were lit and people wore costumes and masks in an attempt to appease the dead spirits. The help of the Gods was sought by animal and human sacrifice. However, there are other historians who believe that the Halloween festival has its origins in an ancient Roman feast of Pomona Goddess. Pomona was the goddess of fruitful abundance. This festival was called Parentalia or the festival of the dead, where people honored their family ancestors.
Although the earliest traditions of Halloween are from the pre-Christian era, it was heavily influenced by the All Saints Day which is on November 1st and All Souls Day celebrated on November 2nd. The three days of All Hallows Evening, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day became the three holy days celebrated across Europe by the end of the 12th century. Some of the main activities during these days were ringing of bells and baking of bread. It was generally believed that during these holy days, the dead souls of the earth that wander all over would get one final opportunity to extract vengeance on their enemies before departing into the other world. The word Halloween started to be used only around the 16th century.
In Britain, Halloween rituals came under severe attack from Protestants in the early 16th century. As a result, the practice of Halloween slowly started to lose its importance. In addition, the annual commemoration of Guy Fawkes Night on 5th November in the early 17th century slowly put an end to Halloween celebrations throughout Britain with the exception of Scotland and Ireland. In North America, Halloween slowly started gaining popularity with the arrival of Scottish and Irish immigrants during the mid 19th century. By the beginning of the 20th century, Halloween had become a major part of mainstream society in America, gaining acceptance across all racial, social, and religious backgrounds.
The symbols and artifacts which popularized Halloween have been inspired by various sources. And why are pumpkins associated with Halloween? The pumpkins and Halloween history goes back to medieval times. In ancient times, the carving of turnips was a Christian custom to remember the souls. This custom inspired the carving of jack-o-lanterns or carving of pumpkins in North America. However, the turnip continues to be used for Halloween in Scotland and Ireland. The carving of Halloween pumpkins in the United States started way back in 1837 during the harvest time. However, the pumpkin carvings became associated with Halloween only later in the mid to late 19th century.
In the 1930s, the game of trick-or-treating became extremely popular in the United States. Children go from house to house in various costumes asking the question trick or treat? The trick is a friendly threat given by children to homeowners, which means that in case they don’t get a gift, they could play some mischief on the home owners property. In Scotland, children have to sing or tell a scary tale to earn their treats. This game was inspired by the practice of souling, which started in the 16th century in Ireland and Scotland, when poor people would go from door-to-door to earn food in return for their prayers for the dead souls.
Halloween is today a profitable industry in the form of costumes (children and adults), food, and party decorations. It is currently an approximately $5 billion industry in the US and Canada and is expected to grow in the coming years.
What is Halloween?: Top Facts
So what is Halloween and what does the word Halloween mean? Here are some important Halloween facts. You might be surprised that the word Halloween was coined from the word All Hallows Even, where the term even signifies the evening. This word has Scottish origins from the mid 1600 A.D. The earliest mention of the term Halloween was around the year 1556 A.D. The word All Hallows Even was used in reference to the evening or night preceding All Hallows Day. All Hallows Day is now more popularly called All Saints Day. The word All Saints Day is the short form of the word Solemnity of all Saints as officially referred to by the Roman Catholic Church. All Saints Day is celebrated on the 1st of November by followers of the Latin church branch of the catholic church. It is also celebrated by the various groups and derivatives of the catholic church, such as the Anglican and protestant churches.
So traditionally, Halloween falls on October 31st each year, an evening before All Saints Day. Halloween is celebrated in a few western countries and is especially most popular in the U.S, Canada, Scotland and Ireland. In the U.S, Halloween is a national holiday and children trick or treat in keeping with the Halloween spirit. On Halloween night children wear Halloween costumes and go from door to door asking the question Trick or Treat? This means that the homeowner either decides to treat with candy or money or opts for trick where the children could play a prank or mischief on him. The word trick is used in a fun-loving spirit of Halloween and rarely does anyone opt for the trick option. Most homes stock candies, cookies or goodies to give the children before Halloween night. These days, it has become increasingly popular amongst adults to also engage in trick or treating. Adults too are joining in the Halloween night fun wearing costumes and accompanying children.
Halloween night is a special occasion that children look forward to. Children sometimes plan on their Halloween costumes months in advance with excitement and thrill. Parents too take joy in watching their kids dress in scary Halloween costumes and help prepare them to trick or treat. The spirit of Halloween is now getting more widespread popularity in other countries like Brazil, New Zealand and Australia. The significance of Halloween cannot be underestimated and it is truly a night to look forward to.
When Is Halloween 2017 And How is Halloween Celebrated?
Halloween, which falls on October 31st, is one of the most popular holidays in the world. As it is one of the oldest ever traditions dating back to ancient Ireland and Scotland, a lot of pre-Christian rituals and customs are still practiced in those countries. However, Halloween today has become more of a fun kind of holiday enjoyed by the young and old worldwide.
In rural Ireland, the tradition of lighting bonfires to appease the dead spirits during Halloween is still practiced. Turnips are carved to make lanterns to remember the departed souls. A lot of new trends for Halloween have become popular in the past century.
In medieval England, large beets were used to carve lanterns. Children carried these lanterns (also called unkies) singing the famous “Punkie Night Song” knocking on people’s doors asking for money. In rural England, turnip lanterns were placed at homes to protect them from the spirits that roam during Halloween.
With the advent of Protestant Reformation throughout Europe in the 16th century, the celebrations during Halloween stopped. However, the American custom of trick-or-treat revived the interest in Halloween, especially among English children. A lot of adults from the older generations, who are unaware of the recent Halloween games are mostly at a loss to understand why they are being approached for gifts and sweets from children.
Halloween night is now rapidly being accepted and followed by millions of people worldwide. Halloween is growing extremely popular in Spain, Mexico, France and Singapore. Even in countries like India, where the majority of the population is Hindu, people have started celebrating Halloween in major cities. The spirit of Halloween is undoubtedly spreading far and wide with each passing day.
|Year||Day Halloween Falls on||Halloween|
|2012||Wednesday||October 31, 2012|
|2013||Thursday||October 31, 2013|
|2014||Friday||October 31, 2014|
|2015||Saturday||October 31, 2015|
|2016||Monday||October 31, 2016|
|2017||Tuesday||October 31, 2017|
|2018||Wednesday||October 31, 2018|
|2019||Thursday||October 31, 2019|
|2020||Saturday||October 31, 2020|
|2021||Sunday||October 31, 2021|
|2022||Monday||October 31, 2022|
|2023||Tuesday||October 31, 2023|
|2024||Thursday||October 31, 2024|
The History of Halloween in America-
Halloween became popular in the United States after the transatlantic migration of more than 2 million people from Ireland and Scotland. Scottish-American and Irish-American families had dinners and balls, with the recitation of the poem Halloween by Robert Burns. At the beginning of the 20th century, Halloween had somehow turned into a festival marked by vandalism, with lots of reports of destroyed property and cruelty to animals.
Around 1912, many organizations like the Boy Scouts and Boys Clubs took the initiative to create awareness about celebrating a decent and safe Halloween. By the 1930s, the game of trick-or-treating started to become very popular in the country among children. In the late 1930s, a lot of stores started to sell Halloween costumes and masks. The tradition of carving pumpkins instead of the traditional turnip started in the mid 19th century and became very popular by the 1950s.
By the 1990s, Halloween costumes like scarecrows, mummies, vampires, and witches became very popular, among both children and adults. Today, Halloween is the second most popular holiday in the United States, after Christmas. Halloween costume parties in the evening are customary, with a lot of contests held at bars and restaurants to attract customers.
A lot of costumes have been inspired by Hollywood hits like the Freddie Krueger costume from A Nightmare on Elm Street, the Jason Vorhees costume from Friday the 13th, the Leatherface costume from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and the monster costume from Frankenstein.
Halloween has become popular mainly because of the American influence in several countries across the world. For example, in Mexico the festival began to be celebrated only in the 1960s. Halloween has started to become popular and is now celebrated as a social event in many countries in Asia and Europe.