Halloween is a holiday celebrated on the night of October 31, which origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain. Straddling the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity, life and death, Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition. Irish and Scottish immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century. As the history of Halloween has evolved, other western countries embraced the holiday in the late twentieth century. People would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween. The word Halloween is a shortening of All Hallows Evening also known as Hallowe’en or All Hallows’ Eve.
Traditional activities include trick-or-treating, bonfires, costume parties, visiting “haunted houses” and carving jack-o-lanterns.
Trick-or-treating, is an activity for children on or around Halloween in which they proceed from house to house in costumes, asking for treats such as confectionery with the question, “Trick or treat?” The “trick” part of “trick or treat” is a threat to play a trick on the homeowner or his property if no treat is given. Trick-or-treating is one of the main traditions of Halloween. It has become socially expected that if one lives in a neighborhood with children one should purchase treats in preparation for trick-or-treaters.
Part of the history of Halloween is Halloween costumes. The practice of dressing up on holidays goes back to the Middle Ages, and includes Christmas wassailing. Adults sometimes wore costumes when they begged house-to-house for a Halloween feast. In County Cork, Ireland, a man wearing a white robe and holding a wooden horse’s head led the group. In parts of Scotland, costumed beggars out on Halloween were known as skeklets. In Wales, boys dressed as girls and girls dressed as boys to go house-to-house singing Halloween rhymes. Halloween costumes were popularized in the United States by adults in the late 1800s. Store-bought costumes have since become popular among both children and adults.