Halloween has evolved into many traditions and let's first understand some of them:
- Trick-or-treating evolved from the ancient Celtic tradition of putting out treats and food to placate spirits who roamed the streets at Samhain, a sacred festival that marked the end of the Celtic calendar year.
- “Souling” is a medieval Christian precursor to modern-day trick-or-treating. On Hallowmas (November 1), the poor would go door-to-door offering prayers for the dead in exchange for soul cakes.
- The first known mention of trick-or-treating in print in North America occurred in 1927 in Blackie, Alberta, Canada.
- “Halloween” is short for “Hallows’ Eve” or “Hallows’ Evening,” which was the evening before All Hallows’ (sanctified or holy) Day or Hallowmas on November 1. In an effort to convert pagans, the Christian church decided that Hallowmas or All Saints’ Day (November 1) and All Souls’ Day (November 2) should assimilate sacred pagan holidays that fell on or around October 31.
- Black and orange are typically associated with Halloween. Orange is a symbol of strength and endurance and, along with brown and gold, stands for the harvest and autumn. Black is typically a symbol of death and darkness and acts as a reminder that Halloween once was a festival that marked the boundaries between life and death.
- Ireland is typically believed to be the birthplace of Halloween.
- With their link to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (a precursor to Halloween) and later to witches, cats have a permanent place in Halloween folklore. During the ancient celebration of Samhain, Druids were said to throw cats into a fire, often in wicker cages, as part of divination proceedings.
- Scarecrows, a popular Halloween fixture, symbolize the ancient agricultural roots of the holiday.
- Halloween has variously been called All Hallows’ Eve, Witches Night, Lamswool, Snap-Apple Night, Samhaim, and Summer’s End.
- Halloween was influenced by the ancient Roman festival Pomona, which celebrated the harvest goddess of the same name. Many Halloween customs and games that feature apples (such as bobbing for apples) and nuts date from this time. In fact, in the past, Halloween has been called San-Apple Night and Nutcrack Night.
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