The origins of Halloween lie in an ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain, which was a festival of the dead. The festival was traditionally held on the day of the official start of winter on the Celtic calendar, which corresponds to November 1 on the modern calendar.
During Samhain, revelers would light bonfires to honor the dead and keep them from the realm of the living. It was believed that during Samhain, spirits were able to visit the world of the living. It was also the time when those who had passed away during the year could travel to the beyond.
Christian missionaries have a lot to do with Halloween as it is known in the modern world. In an attempt to diminish the celebration of Samhain, they assigned the same day as the feast of All Saints, or All Hallows Day, on November 1. "Hallow" means holy or sanctified. Over the years, the symbolism of Samhain remained, and the celebration of All Hallow's Eve continued as a celebration of the disembodied dead. Gifts of food and drink were placed out for these spirits to appease them. This began the tradition of children dressing up as spooks and ghouls and going door to door to collect treats.Learn More
Some Halloween metaphors suggested by E. Kent Winward of the Standard Examiner describe the law as a Vampire (coming out at night and sucking on people's life blood) and "The Vampire Code" (the garlic, cross, sunlight and stake that keeps predators at bay). Taking a more balanced view, he adds that the law is a Werewolf (functional most of the time but known on occasion to act like a 'howling, drooling wolf').Full Answer >
The Celtic people started Samhain, the festival that eventually became known as Halloween, in the early days of the first millennium A.D. The festival celebrated the dead, whom the Celtics believed could join the living on that day.Full Answer >
The night before Halloween is commonly called Mischief Night, particularly in the state of New Jersey. In some areas of New York State, the night is referred to as Goosey Night or Hell Night, while other areas in the New England area use the name Cabbage Night or Gate Night. In the Detroit region, people call it Devil's Night, while in the North and South Dakota states, the night is called Mat Night.Full Answer >
Another name for Halloween is All Hallows' Eve. All Hallows' Eve means the day before All Hallows Day, a Catholic holiday that is more commonly known as All Saints Day.Full Answer >