Halloween in United States ― Date, History, and Details
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History of Halloween in United States and How to Celebrate/ Observe It
Halloween is a holiday celebrated each year on October 31, and Halloween 2018 occurs on Wednesday, October 31. It originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III moved the date of All Saints’ Day from May 13 to November 1, which incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve, and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a secular, community-based event characterized by child-friendly activities such as trick-or-treating. In a number of countries around the world, the Christian religious observances of All Hallows’ Eve—including attending church services and lighting candles on the graves of the dead—remain popular, although elsewhere it is a more commercial and secular celebration.
One common belief about the origin of Halloween is that it was influenced by pagan festivals, specifically the Celtic festival of Samhain. Some historians believe that the Christian church may have adopted and Christianized many of the pagan traditions associated with Samhain. It is also thought that the practice of trick-or-treating, which is common on Halloween, may have been influenced by a ninth-century European custom called souling. During souling, poor people would go door to door begging for soul cakes, which were small cakes baked in the shape of a person’s head. In return for the cakes, the beggars would promise to say prayers for the dead on All Souls’ Day.
Halloween activities include trick-or-treating (or the related guising), attending Halloween costume parties, carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, visiting haunted attractions, playing pranks, telling scary stories, and watching horror films. In many parts of the world, the Christian religious observances of All Hallows’ Eve, including attending church services and lighting candles on the graves of the dead, remain popular, although elsewhere it is a more commercial and secular celebration. Some Christians historically abstained from meat on All Hallows’ Eve, a tradition reflected in the eating of certain vegetarian foods on this vigil day, including apples, potato pancakes, and soul cakes.