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Halloween Is An Annual Holiday Celebrated Each Year On October 31

October 31. It originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints; soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween.

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Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, festive gatherings, donning costumes and eating sweet treats.

Halloween falls on October 31 because the ancient Gaelic festival of Samhain, considered the earliest known root of Halloween, occurred on this day. It marked a pivotal time of year when seasons changed, but (more importantly) observers also believed the boundary between this world and the next became especially thin at this time, enabling them to connect with the dead.

This belief is shared by some other cultures; a similar idea is mentioned around the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, which also typically occurs in October and involves saying prayers for the dead.

Because ancient records are sparse and fragmentary, the exact nature of Samhain is not fully understood, but it was an annual communal meeting at the end of the harvest year, a time to gather resources for the winter months and bring animals back from the pastures. Samhain is also thought to have been a time of communing with the dead, according to folklorist John Santino.

The practice was pretty controversial into the 1950s Halloween Day though. According to the American Journal of Play’s “Gangsters, Pranksters, and the Invention of Trick-or-Treating,” many adults raised “stern objections” to trick-or-treating over the decades, as it was often viewed as a form of extortion.

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