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Halloween: Costumes, Traditions And Trick Or Treating

05/11/2014 15:44 | Updated 22 May 2015

On 31st October children and adults around the world will dress up in scary costumes to celebrate Halloween – but where did the traditions come from?

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Halloween... know it all

Halloween is without a doubt the scariest of all our holidays through the year. It is seen as a day to think about the dark side of life as we move into winter - to tell ghost stories, to remember the dead, and consider the supernatural.

Halloween... know it all

Why do we celebrate Halloween? The traditional Celtic autumn festival, Samhain, happened at about the same time as the English Christians celebrated All Hallows Day (also known as All Souls Day) and they evolved into our modern idea of Halloween.

Halloween... know it all

One common custom is to carve spooky or funny faces into big pumpkins (or turnips) and put candles inside them to ward off evil spirits. You could make a tasty pumpkin pie with your children using the scooped-out insides too. Yum!

Halloween... know it all

Another traditional game kids love is bobbing for apples. The apples are placed into a big bowl of water, and everyone has to try to grab one using their teeth with their arms tied behind their back. It's thought apple bobbing comes from the pagan festival of Samhain when families would gather together for a communal feast.

Halloween... know it all

Apples can also be used to tell your romantic fortune on Halloween. You peel an apple in one go, then throw the long strip of peel behind you. Whatever shape of letter it seems to have landed in is said to be the first letter of the name of the person you will marry.

Halloween... know it all

We mustn't forget trick-or-treating. Children go around their neighbourhoods on Halloween night asking for sweets. If anybody doesn't provide a treat, the kids can play a trick (hopefully nothing too naughty!). In some parts of Scotland children still go guising. In this custom the child performs some sort of trick, such as singing a song or telling a ghost story, to earn their treats.

Halloween... know it all

Trick-or-treating is similar to the late medieval practice of souling, when the town's poor would go door to door on Hallowmans (November 1), receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2). Although the tradition began in Ireland and Britain, similar practices for the souls of the dead were found as far away as Italy.

Halloween... know it all

For many, the most fun of this holiday is the dressing-up of course. Everyone loves to wear a costume at the parties held at this time of year. The general theme is the supernatural of course, so you see a lot of spooky little ghosts, frightening witches, skeletons, and monsters. Masks and costumes were worn for the ancient festival of Samhain, so it is a very old tradition.

Halloween... know it all

Other popular costumes are super heroes, aliens, or cartoon characters. Some people host more topical Halloween parties, where people wear fancy-dress related to recent political events around the world. Other people even dress their pets up.

Halloween... know it all

In the UK, spending on Halloween is increasing. This year Americans are expected to spend a massive £3.6 billion on Halloween events. Don't worry though, we expect the children you know will be quite satisfied with a plastic spider, a witch's hat and maybe a mini chocolate bar.

Halloween... know it all

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