Halloween, the time of celebration and superstition, is annually celebrated on October 31 and this year it falls on Monday. Halloween, which is the oldest and the second most commercially celebrated holiday in America, is observed every year on the last day of October to mark the transition between seasons.
Halloween, which dates back to over 2,000 years, means hallowed evening or holy evening, which falls on the eve of All Saints' Day, a day to honour all saints and martyrs. The evening before All Saints' Day was called All Hallows' Eve, Allhalloween or All Saints' Eve and later it was named Halloween.
Over the years, the festival advanced into a community-based event and it is now being celebrated with activities such as trick or treat.
The origin of this festival dates back to 2,000 years. According to History, Halloween originated from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain and it marked the end of summer/ harvest season and the beginning of the dark and winter season. The Celts often associated the dark and winter with human death. They believed that on New Year's Eve, i.e. the evening before All Saints' Day, the boundary between the living and the dead became blurred and the ghosts of the dead returned to earth, History explained.
Why and how Halloween is celebrated
Halloween has always been affiliated with ghosts, horror and spooky stories. Back in the history, the Celts would gather on the night of October 31, build huge sacred bonfires to burn crops. They also used to sacrifice animals to the Celtic deities. On this night, they would gather wearing costumes consisting mainly of animal skins and heads.
The festival was initially celebrated with play parties and events to celebrate the harvest. People would dance, sing, share ghost stories and tell each other's fortunes. However, now the festival is more about fun than sharing ghost stories. People organise costume parties, decorate houses, trick people, carve a pumpkin into jack o' lanterns and celebrate it with friends and family.
Halloween festival is not only associated with several myths and customs, but also with superstitions, as it is believed that ghosts of the dead return to earth on this day. Here are the interesting superstitions surrounding Halloween:
Crossing Paths with Black Cats: It is believed that a black cat crossing your path brings bad luck. The actual origin of the most believed superstitions is not known yet, but many believed that witches turned themselves into cats to avoid humans or hide their identity.
Avoiding walking under ladders and breaking mirrors: People avoid walking under ladders for the same reason. On the other hand, broken mirrors represent the soul being astray and that is why people generally wait for seven hours to clean the pieces of broken mirrors.
Owls: Owls looking into your house on this day is considered ominous. It is believed that seeing an owl on this day might bring bad luck and death.
Salt: Salt was considered to have magical powers, which made people believe that spilling salt would bring death in the family.