Halloween, which is also known as All Hallows' Eve, Allhalloween or All Saints' Eve, is celebrated annually on 31 October to mark the transition between seasons. While some countries observe the day to mark the end of summer as well as harvest season and the beginning of winter, others dedicate it to remember the dead, including martyrs and saints.
The day is believed to be originated from the harvest festival of Celtic with influence from Gaelic festival. It was first observed by the people of Iron Age living in Medieval Europe, known as the Celts. They celebrated the day as their New Year and believed that it is a day when the souls of the dead returned to Earth. Celts consider All Saints' Eve as a boundary between the dead and living that causes damage and trouble.
Currently, Halloween is observed as the beginning of Allhallowtide by Western Christians and non-Christians across the globe. It is celebrated in many parts of the country with child-friendly activities such as carving pumpkins into jack-o'-lanterns, playing pranks, telling scary stories, trick-or-treating, watching horror films, attending costume parties and divination games. In some parts of world, the day is also observed with community-based events, including attending church services, praying and fasting for the dead, organising vigils and lighting candles on the graves.
The All Saints' Eve is also linked to several superstitious believes, such as crossing paths with black cats, avoid spilling salts, breaking mirrors and walking under ladders. Here are some of the interesting Halloween superstitions (via History.com):
Crossing Paths with Black Cats: It is one of the most common superstitious beliefs across the globe, which was originated in the Middle Age. Crossing paths with black cats is considered as bad luck because it is believed that witches turn themselves into cats to hide their identity.
Setting Dinner Table and Distributing Soul Cakes: Some people set places for the souls of their close relatives and friends at the dinner tables. Others distribute pastries, known as soul cakes, to the poor citizens in return for offering their prayers to the deceased ones.
A Day to Identify Future Husbands: In many parts of the world, young women considered Halloween eve as the best time to identify their future life partners. While some hide a ring inside mashed potatoes, others throw hazelnuts into fire and a few toss apple peels through their shoulders to find their true love.