What is Halloween?
And how did this originate?
Halloween, one of the world's oldest holidays,
is still celebrated today in a number of countries around the globe.
The word itself, "Halloween," actually has its origins in the Catholic Church.
It comes from a contracted corruption of All Hallows Eve.
November 1, "All Hollows Day" (or "All Saints Day"),
is a Catholic day of observance in honor of saints
The custom of Halloween was brought to America in the 1840's
by Irish immigrants fleeing their country's potato famine.
In Mexico and other Latin American countries,
Día de los Muertos—the Day of the Dead—
honors deceased loved ones and ancestors.
In countries such as Ireland, Canada and the United States,
adults and children alike revel in the popular Halloween holiday,
which derived from ancient festivals and religious rituals.
Traditions include costume parties, trick-or-treating, pranks and games.
In Ireland, where Halloween originated, the day is still celebrated much
as it is in the United States. In rural areas, bonfires are lit as they were
in the days of the Celts, and all over the country, children get dressed up
in costumes and spend the evening "trick-or-treating" in their neighborhoods.
Although it is unknown precisely where and when the phrase “trick or treat” was coined,
the custom had been firmly established in American popular culture by 1951,
when trick-or-treating was depicted in the Peanuts comic strip.
In 1952, Disney produced a cartoon called “Trick or Treat”
featuring Donald Duck and his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie.
The custom of trick-or-treat is thought to have originated not with the Irish Celts,
but with a ninth-century European custom called souling.
On November 2, All Souls Day, early Christians would walk from village to village
begging for "soul cakes," made out of square pieces of bread with currants.
The more soul cakes the beggars would receive, the more prayers they would promise to say on behalf of the dead relatives of the donors.
At the time, it was believed that the dead remained in limbo for a time after death,
and that prayer, even by strangers, could expedite a soul's passage to heaven.
The Jack-o-lantern custom probably comes from Irish folklore.
As the tale is told, a man named Jack, who was notorious as a drunkard and trickster, tricked Satan into climbing a tree.
Jack then carved an image of a cross in the tree's trunk,
trapping the devil up the tree.
Jack made a deal with the devil that, if he would never tempt him again,
he would promise to let him down the tree.
According to the folk tale, after Jack died, he was denied entrance to Heaven
because of his evil ways, but he was also denied access to Hell
because he had tricked the devil.
Instead, the devil gave him a single ember to light his way through the frigid darkness.
The ember was placed inside a hollowed-out turnip to keep it glowing longer.