On October 31st, Halloween brings out the ghouls and goblins, creatures, and strange folk. They come creeping about the neighborhood seeking favors over trickery.
People of all ages look forward to Halloween traditions. While dressing up and baking, we carve up glowing pumpkins. Children breathing life into storybook characters, practicing their trick or treat. In twos and threes, they traipse through the neighborhood, collecting their bounty in pillow sacks. A ghost, a pirate, a robot or Dorothy, and Toto. No matter their age, they come to the door. They knock or ring. Here and there, a screech or a boo!
The crisp air and autumn colors set the mood. Seasonings fill our senses with a taste of autumn. We set forth on an adventure and finish with a warm apple cider around a flickering fire.
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Typical festive Halloween activities include trick-or-treating (or the related “guising”). While many attend costume parties, bob for apples, and light bonfires, others look forward to counting trick or treaters. Houses are decorated with sprays of fall leaves, scarecrows, and pumpkins carved into jack-o-lanterns. Attractions include visiting a haunted house, playing pranks, telling scary stories and watching horror films.
However, trick or treating has also changed. In the United States, some organizations around the country offer trick or treat events for children to come dressed up and collect candy in a safe environment.They may also offer Halloween parties for children to attend, too.
In many parts of the world, the Christian religious observances of All Hallows’ Eve, including attending church services and lighting candles on the graves of the dead, remains popular. Although, in other locations, these solemn customs are less pronounced in favor of a more commercialized and secularized celebration.
Because many Western Christian denominations encourage, although no longer require, abstinence from meat on All Hallows’ Eve, the tradition of eating certain vegetarian foods for this vigil day developed, including the consumption of apples, colcannon, cider, potato pancakes, and soul cakes.
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The observance dates back to an ancient pagan harvest festival marking the end of summer and beckoning the beginning of winter. Seasons overlapped during Samhain (pronounced sah-win), and revelers believed the worlds of the living and the dead crossed. To interact with the spirits, the living would wear costumes and light, bright bonfires to help protect them.
Similar celebrations honoring the dead took place in Roman traditions, which were gradually blended and soon replaced the Celtic ceremonies. However, All Martyrs Day established by Pope Boniface IV in 609 A.D. was eventually moved by Pope Gregory III to November 1. Later, it became known as All Saint’s Day. The eve of this celebration became known as All Hallows Eve or Halloween.
Through the Colonial era in America, Halloween celebrations were considered taboo due to religious beliefs. By the Victorian era, though, Haloween traditions featured fall festivals, parties, and foods involving communities and neighborhoods.