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The History of Halloween
by Brenda Arnold
halloween is full of jack o lanternsHalloween is a holiday celebrated on the night of October 31. Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain. The festival of Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture. Samhain was a time used by the ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and prepare for winter. The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased would come back to life and cause havoc such as sickness or damaged crops.

The festival would frequently involve bonfires. It is believed that the fires attracted insects to the area which attracted bats to the area. These are additional attributes of the history of Halloween. Masks and consumes were worn in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or appease them.

Halloween Symbols: Particularly in America, symbolism is inspired by classic film, such as fictional figures like Dracula and Frankenstein's monster in the vein of Boris Karloff and Alfred Hitchcock. Homes are often decorated with these symbols around Halloween.



The tradition of carving pumpkins originated from an Irish legend of Stingy Jack, doomed to wander endlessly through dark nights with only a burning coal in a turnip that had been hollowed out for light. People would carve scary faces into turnips and place them in their windows to keep “Jack of the Lantern” away. Immigrants to the United States began using native pumpkins rather then turnips, and the practice continues to this day.

Witches were believed to cast spells and commune with black cats, as well as consort with the devil. Due to the ancient beliefs that spirits of the dead could return on Halloween, it was thought that their power would be stronger on that night. Many superstitions persisted about witches, including one which involved wearing clothing inside out and walking backwards outside in order to see a witch flying through the sky at midnight on Halloween.

Halloween, a time of magic, also became a day of divination, with a host of magical beliefs. Images thought to symbolize bad omens—such as black cats, bats, and spiders—are also commonly featured in Halloween decorations. Elements of the autumn season, such as pumpkins and scarecrows, are also reflected in symbols of Halloween. 

Halloween Customs:  Halloween includes many traditions inherited from the past such as apple ducking, fireworks, recounting of ghost stories and playing games such as Hide 'n' Seek. Apple tarts are usually baked with a coin hidden inside, and large quantities of various types of nuts are eaten. Bolder children might also play a game called Thunder and Lightning, which involves knocking '"like thunder" on a neighbors door, then running away "like lightning".

Visiting a haunted house or a dark attraction are other Halloween traditions. Notwithstanding the name, such events are not necessarily held in houses, nor are the edifices themselves necessarily regarded to possess actual ghosts.

The telling of ghost stories and viewing of horror films are common fixtures of Halloween parties. Television specials with a Halloween theme, usually aimed at children, are commonly aired on or before the holiday while new horror films are often released theatrically before the holiday to take advantage of the atmosphere.

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Halloween is a holiday celebrated on the night of October 31. Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain. The festival of Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture. Samhain was a time used by the ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and prepare for winter. The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased would come back to life and cause havoc such as sickness or damaged crops.
Starts: 10/31/2013 12:00AM
Ends: 2013-11-01:00.000 Duration: 23:59
United States