Halloween Traditions

Halloween, celebrated on October 31, is a celebration held in most countries of the Western World. The tradition originated with the Celtic festival of Sanheim, which is the celebration of the harvest, at which time the people took inventory of their food supplies and livestock for the coming winter months. The name “Halloween” is a shortened version of All Hallow’s Eve, the day before the feast of All Saints’ Day. Even though it was originally a pagan holiday, the Christian celebration of this day was moved from May 13th to November 1st in the 9th century.

Some of the symbols associated with Halloween traditions include the Jack-o-lantern, which is a carved pumpkin that has been hollowed out to make room for a lighted candle to be placed inside. Monsters and mythical creatures also have a place in Halloween, as it is associated with witches, scarecrows, black cats, bats, mummies, skeletons and demons of all shapes and sizes.

Each country has its own way of celebrating Halloween. In Scotland, Ireland, the US and Canada, children engage in trick or treating. They dress up in all forms of costumes and go from house to house receiving candy treats. Depending on the size of the community or neighborhood, children can accumulate a large number of treats, such as candy suckers, chocolate bars and drinks. Some of them carry small plastic pumpkin containers or specially marked bags, while others use large pillowcases for collecting their loot. In large cities and towns, parents often accompany the children for security reasons.

Halloween is celebrated in Lebanon on December 4 and children go trick or treating here as well. The intention, though, is different, as they disguise themselves in costumes hoping to invoke the saints to go wandering in the mountains. In England and Wales, some children still take part in trick or treating, but the custom has started to die out in modern times. Instead it is often a nuisance with pranks played on neighbors that sometimes result in vandalism. Bonfires are lit in Wales to mark the night when spirits are said to walk the night and a “white lady” ghost sometimes appears. In this country, Halloween is known as Nos Galan Gaeaf – the beginning of the new year.