What is Halloween?

Halloween is a community-based holiday and is mostly celebrated in Western countries. The name Halloween is a contraction of Hallows' Evening which is a holiday that precedes the western Christian feast of All Hallow’s Day on November 1.

Carved pumpkin

When is Halloween?

Halloween is an annual holiday that is celebrated on October 31. The name comes from a Hallows' Evening which is a holiday that precedes the Western Christian feast of All Hallow’s Day on November 1. Halloween is celebrated by Christians and non-Christians worldwide.

Did you know that the date most likely comes from All Hallow’s Day? This is a Christian festival celebrated in honour of all the saints, known and unknown. The November 1 date first occurred during the reign of Pope Gregory III (731–741), who dedicated a chapel in St. Peter’s, Rome, on November 1 in honour of all saints.

Another explanation for the date is found in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts chose November 1 as a start of their new year because it marked the end of summer and harvest and the beginning of winter and darkness. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. They dressed up in scary costumes and fired up huge bonfires to scare away the evil spirits.

Celebrating Halloween

There are many different ways as to how people celebrate Halloween, we give you an overview of the most common celebrations.

Trick or treat!

On the evening of Halloween, children dress up, often in spooky costumes and go for trick or treating in their neighbourhood to collect sweets and candies.

Children would ask for candy by saying the phrase ‘trick or treat’, with the trick referring to perform mischief on the homeowner. Some residents would place their treats on their porch instead for the children to collect.

Family in costume

Halloween costumes and decorations

People love to decorate their houses and dress up during Halloween. Both costumes and decorations are usually themed towards spooky, with jack-o’-lanterns, witchcraft, tombstones, skeletons, ghosts, and skulls as commonly used attributes.

The central colors for Halloween are traditionally black (death) and orange (pumpkin), with sometimes also purple (witchcraft).

Haunted attractions

Another common Halloween tradition is seasonal attractions, such as haunted houses and corn mazes.

Certain theme parks like Thorpe Park are also known to host special Halloween events, often with dressed-up actors, sometimes explicitly instructed to scare people. It is also common to watch horror movies during Halloween.

Halloween Food

In different countries around the world, different types of food are associated with Halloween, but the most well-known are pumpkin (pie), candy apples, caramel corn, candy and chocolate.

Halloween food

Christian religious observances

Even though Halloween has no direct reference in the Bible, some Biblical principles are directly related to the celebration of Halloween.

Common ways for Christians to celebrate Halloween, other than participating in celebrations already discussed, are praying, fasting and attending worship services.

Exchanging gifts

Although not as common as with Christmas, some families choose to organize a Secret Santa at Halloween, where they will exchange gifts, without knowing who gave a gift to whom.
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Celebrate Halloween safely

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