31st October - Halloween
Halloween, All Hallows' Eve, All Saints' Eve are all names that signify the day that falls on 31st October each year; Halloween being the most popular of them. Every year, Halloween is celebrated globally. It has gained widespread popularity due to the activities it involves. Some of them include trick-or-treating, carving pumpkins, attending costume parties, visiting haunted places etc.
The inception of Halloween
2,000 years ago, the 1st November was celebrated as the Celtic New Year, and according to Celtic superstitions, the night before New Year there existed no boundaries between the living and the dead worlds. Thus the night of 31st October was celebrated as 'Samhain' on the belief that ghosts returned to earth. Samhain was celebrated by lighting bonfires, wearing costumes, fortune-telling etc.
The evolution of 'Halloween'
In 1000 A.D, 2nd November was commemorated as All Souls' Day by the church, a day to honour the dead. Celebrations of All Souls' Day were similar to that of Samhain-bonfires, saint, angel and devil costumes etc. All Souls' Day (All Saints' Day) came to be called as All-hallows. The night before All-hallows (Samhain night) was then known as All-hallows Eve, eventually becoming 'Halloween'.
Orange and black are colours traditionally associated with Halloween; orange signifies the fall harvest (or the end of summer) and black stands for darkness, which also means 'Winter is coming'.
"Trick-or-treat" is Halloween's highest recognized custom, many a childrens' favourite all over the world. Children in costumes visit houses on the evening of 31st October asking every owner "trick-or-treat". Treats include candies and chocolates or in some cultures, money. Trick means a threat (almost always idle) to play mischief or pranks on the householder's property if they do not offer treats.
Superstitions associated with Halloween
At the time of the Celts, people would leave treats on door steps and light candles on the side of the road to help spirits of loved ones find their way back to the spirit world. Modern day superstitions include avoiding crossing paths with black cats for fear of bad luck. Breaking mirrors and stepping on cracks in the road are also avoided.
Traditional Halloween superstitions involved a lot of activities associated with finding suitors for young women. One of them included women tossing apple peels over their shoulders, hoping to find the initial of their future husband in the shape of the peel.
Fun facts about Halloween
During Halloween-week, Americans buy 90 million pounds of chocolate, equivalent to 930,000,000 Hershey's bars- these bars would be capable of circling the earth 3.25 times. More than 50% of Americans put up Halloween decor in their yards. 99% of all the pumpkins sold are used as Jack o' Lanterns for Halloween. Over 90% American parents admit to sneaking Halloween candies from their kid's hauls.