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Traditional Halloween celebrations

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On October 31st, we celebrate Halloween,thought to be the one night of the year when ghosts, witches, and fairies are especially active.



Why do we celebrate halloween?



The easy answer to this question is that no one really knows the origins of Halloween.



What we do know for sure is that Halloween is on the eve of a major Catholic festival, All Saints (1st November) and the eve of the pagan Celtic festival known as Samhain.



The three days between 31st October and 2nd November see pagan and Christian celebrations intertwined in a fascinating way and is a perfect example of superstition struggling with religious belief.



Currently, it is widely thought that Halloween originated as a pagan Celtic festival of the dead related to the Irish and Scottish Samhain, but there is no evidence that it was connected with the dead in pre-Christian times.



Trick-or-treatinggoing from house to house in search of candy and other goodieshas been a popular Halloween tradition in the United States and other countries for an estimated 100 years. But the origins of this community-based ritual, which costumed children typically savor while their cavity-conscious parents grudgingly tag along, remain hazy. Possible forerunners to modern-day trick-or-treating have been identified in ancient Celtic festivals, early Roman Catholic holidays, medieval practices and even British politics.



Jack-o-lanterns were carved to light nighttime paths and protect from these evil spirits. The carved pumpkin's namesake comes from the legend that a boy named Jack paraded through the town with a pumpkin in which he'd trapped the devil. The devil curses Jack upon his release and condemns him to spend forever in hell. When the gates open on Halloween, Jack would escape hell to wreak havoc upon the town. The Jack-o-Lanterns were supposed to trick Jack into thinking it held the devil, scaring him off.



International Celebrations



The Chinese celebrate the Festival of the Hungry Ghosts, or Yue Lan. Rather than trying to hide from and disguise themselves in order to ward off evil spirits, the Chinese give them gifts in order to give them enough comfort to retreat.

Halloween, or Samhain Night, is popular in Ireland. The Irish will light bonfires, just as ancient Samhain festivals would. Observers will decorate houses with turnips, candles, and carved pumpkins. Emergency services see their busiest day of the year on Halloween, as many youths are up to mischief and many celebrate with fireworks although they are banned.

The Scottish take pride in their Halloween festivals, lighting bonfires according to their Samhain roots. Some may observe divination rituals. A popular ritual is dooking, where a person must be blindfolded before attempting to eat a piece of pastry hanging from a string.

Japan celebrates the Bon Festival, a Buddhist holiday that honors the deceased, especially the ancestors of the observer. This is commemorated with outdoor festivals, grave visits, and grave cleaning. They will light lanterns to flow down bodies of water, symbolic of the spirits returning to the underworld.

Romanians celebrate the story of "Dracula" on Halloween. They believed that he came to haunt the towns form time to time, staying in the area because he was attracted to the environment where many witch trials took place.


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