October 31st is the day when Halloween is celebrated. This year in 2019, it occurred on Thursday Oct 31st. The history behind celebrating this day dates back to the Celtic festival of Samhain approx. 2000 years ago. The Celts lived in Ireland, the United Kingdom and France who followed Celtic religion. They celebrated November 1st as New Year day. As the summer ends and winter starts Celtics believe the border between world of living and death becomes thin. Hence to scare deadly spirits and ghosts’ big party was done. They believed the dead returns back to the earth and hence to bring out peace and scare them bonfires were lighted, sacrifices were offered to pay homage to the dead. The villagers during the Celtic celebrations would disguise in dresses made from animal skins to ward away the ghosts and also set up tables with food to fulfill unwelcomed spirits.
When Christian religion came, the day came to be known as All-hallows eve or All saints eve. In 9th century when Christianity had spread everywhere, the church declared 2nd November as All souls day which was to respect and honor the dead. The wealthier families would offer food or soul cakes to the poor families who halted at their places in exchange for the promise to pray for the souls of the dead relatives and near ones. This practice was known as souling. Later Children would dress up like ghosts, wearing related costumes and knock on the doors of the strangers asking for treat. The origin of this tradition is not clearly known but there are slight traces found in the Celtic festivals of Samhain. The same was done in Scotland and Ireland only the difference being here people would not promise to pray for the dead souls rather they would perform a trick or sing a song and then collect their treat. This was known as guising.
Later in the 20th century the whole tradition got revived with Irish and Scottish communities entering the United States. Making pranks became one of the activities of Halloween celebrations. In America it is more famous than in any other place. The popularity was brought about by the Irish people when they migrated to the United States. Later various additions to the traditions were made like carving pumpkin into lanterns and trick or treating, Halloween party wearing Halloween costumes, apple bobbing, telling and sharing scary stories etc. In many parts of the country, people light candles on the graves of the dead, while in most of the places it is a commercialized celebration. Some people avoided breaking mirrors, walking under the ladders, crossing a black cat’s path etc.
After Christmas, Halloween is considered as the second largest holiday in the states. It is further revived more as a get together party of children and adults with foods, games and costumes rather than playing pranks, ghosts etc. A $2.6 billion is spent on candy on Halloween in America. It is said that one-third of the candies are purchased on this Halloween day in United States.