October 31 is the day to celebrate Halloween.
People dress up in scary costumes.
Children go from house to house for trick or treat.
They hope to be given sweets.
They might play a trick on someone who doesn’t give sweets.
October 3: All Hallows Eve
Halloween is is a very old festival. Long ago, maybe 2000 years ago in Britain, Ireland, Scotland and in France, people known as Celts celebrated the end of summer and their harvest season on October 31. They also believed that Halloween was a time when witches, ghosts and spirits walked about. They left food out for the ghosts and spirits, who they hoped would not hurt them. Because they were frightened they dressed up in costumes to hide themselves, and made loud noises to scare away the evil spirits. In some places people also lit bonfires. They called their festival, the Festival of the Dead.
When the Catholic Church came to the places where people celebrated the Festival of the Dead, they brought a celebration known as All Saints Day, and held it on November 1. The night before became All Hallows Eve. Later this was shortened to Hallowe’en.
Jack-O-Lanterns and Trick or Treat
These traditions also began in places in Britain. People carved scary faces into turnips to scare away evil spirits. In America and now in Australia and many other places around the world, orange pumpkins are used.
Why are they called Jack-O-Lanterns?
According to an old tale from Ireland, there was once a man called Stingy Jack. Jack was a farmer and was very mean. When Jack died he wasn’t allowed into heaven or into hell. He had to wander about looking for a final resting place. To guide him on his search, he carved a face onto a turnip and placed a piece of burning coal inside it, to light his way.
Trick or treat began when poor children went from door to door begging for food in exchange for a promise to say a prayer for the dead relatives of the people giving them food. Later, children would sing a song in exchange for a treat, usually fruits or nuts. Now, of course, the treats are sweets.
October 31 is a day for fun and games. It’s a time to be just a little bit scared. Dressing up in scary costumes and listening to or reading scary stories is all part of Halloween. So too is carving a Jack-O-Lantern and decorating your house or classroom.