According to many scholars, All Hallows' Eve is a Christianised feast originally influenced by western European harvest festivals, and festivals of the dead with possible pagan roots, particularly the Celtic Samhain. Other scholars maintain that it originated independently of Samhain and has solely Christian roots.
Typical festive Halloween activities include trick-or-treating, attending costume parties, carving pumpkins into jack-o'-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, visiting haunted attractions, playing pranks, telling scary stories, and watching horror films.
The possible origin of Halloween goes back about 2000 years ago, to a group of people called the Celts who lived in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France celebrating a very festive New Year’s Eve celebration on the last day of the Celtic year, marking the end of the Summer and the beginning of winter aka the darker half of the year, had often associated with human death. Their new year started the next day, but on the night before the new year, the Celts believed that this was a time when the dead returned as ghosts and revisited people's home's because the boundary between the worlds of the living and the spirit world had become blurred. In order to stop causing trouble and damaging crops, the Celts had traditional ways to drive the dead back to the spirit world and keep them away from the living. First they put out the hearth fires in their homes so that the homes looked cold and deserted. Then the Druids built a large bonfire in the center of town. And they dressed up in costumes that looked like ghosts or other evil creatures as they thought that the evil spirits were mistaken into believing they were ghosts as well but they left their doors open so that the good spirits can join in by setting up tables for the good spirits and eating dinner with the dead relatives. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter. By 43 A.D., the Roman Empire had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic Lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain. The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and the trees. For this is why it became the tradition of bobbing for apples. On May 13, 609 A.D., Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome in honor of all Christian martyrs, and the Catholic feast of All Martyrs Day was established in the Western church. Pope Gregory III (731–741) later expanded the festival to include all saints as well as all martyrs, and moved the observance from May 13 through November 1. However that didn’t work exactly the way he wanted because the people liked their holidays. By the 9th century the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands, where it gradually blended with and supplanted the older Celtic rites. In 1000 A.D., the church would make November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. It is widely believed today that the church was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. All Souls Day was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels and devils. The All Saints Day celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day and the night before it, the traditional night of Samhain in the Celtic religion, began to be called All-hallows Eve later, the name was changed to Halloween. From the Celtic times to the middle ages, the Celts began to leave food or drinks outside their door steps as offerings to keep roaming spirits at bay and wore masks when they left their homes at night so the ghosts would not mistake them for fellow spirits. By medieval times, the first popular All Souls’ Day practice was to make "soul cakes,". On All Soul's Day November 2nd," the children would go from door-to-door asking for soul cakes during Samhain. For every soul cake that a child collected, they promised to pray for the souls of the people’s dead relatives. These prayers would help the people’s dead families find their way out of Purgatory and up into Heaven as this is the true origin of trick or treating. Several centuries ago amongst myriad towns and villages in Ireland, there lived an Irish legend tells the tale of a man named Stingy Jack who was pleasant and kind until one night, he invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack has decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which stopped the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under one condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that when Jack should die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack tricked the Devil again into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years. Many years later, Jack died, and his soul went to go knock on Heaven's door but he was told by Saint Peter that he was not allowed to enter Heaven because Jack had been rude and selfish in all his life and Jack decided that he might as well go to Hell instead. When he got to the Gates of Hell and begged for commission into the underworld. He wasn’t welcome by the devil, either because of his promise he made to Jack years earlier and because Jack tricked him several times. Now Jack was scared because he had nowhere to go so he pleaded with the Devil to provide him with a light to help him find his way. And as a final gesture, the Devil, tossed Jack an ember straight from the fires of Hell. And from that day to this, Stingy Jack is doomed to roam the Earth between the planes of Heaven and Hell, with only an ember inside a hollowed turnip. Because he couldn’t see in the dark, he carved out a turnip or a potato and putted in a lump of coal he got from the devil earlier. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern,” and then, simply “Jack O’Lantern.” On All-hallows Eve, the Irish people began to put lights in them and carved scary faces onto turnips, gourds, potatoes, and beets, they placed them in windows or near doors to frighten Jack away from their homes which later became the tradition of carving Jack O’Lanterns”. By the early 1800's the great potato famine forced millions of the people from Ireland to leave their beloved homelands because many people were starving and they had no choice but to leave. So the Irish people have managed to immigrate to America and in doing so they brought their traditions with them. When they arrived in America their traditions began to change like when the people go trick or treat they get candy instead of soul cakes And carving Jack O Lanterns they used pumpkins instead of turnips gourds potatoes or beets because they're much easier to carve.
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