Halloween 2015 falls on Saturday and is observed on 31 October every year. Also know as "Hallowe'en", "All Hallows' Eve," and "All Saints' Eve," Halloween is celebrated by Western Christians and non-Christians around the world on the eve of All Hallows or All Saints Day.
Christians, particularly the Catholics, remember saints on All Saints Day (1 November) and the day that follows it is All Souls' Day, which is another occasion to pray for the faithful departed believed to be in Purgatory after death.
The word "Halloween" means "hallowed evening" or "holy evening" and it is called so as it precedes All Saints Day.
Scholars are divided on whether Halloween has Christian or pagan roots. According to Halloween History, the festival originated from the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain, which was celebrated by pagans to mark the end of harvest season in Gaelic culture. The ancient Gaels take stock of supplies in preparation for the winter before the festival and believed that the deceased would come back to life and damage crops on 31 October.
The festival was celebrated with bonfires during ancient times and people wore masks and costumes to appease the evil spirits.
The word "Halloween", first found in 1745, eventually evolved over time from the ancient festival. The forms of celebration also changed with time.
Halloween was traditionally celebrated in the form of costume parties, bonfires, trick-or-treat, playing pranks and visiting haunted houses among others. Then it took a different course in the Middle Ages with children from poor families visit houses in Halloween costumes requesting for treats in return of prayers for the departed souls.
The festival spread to various parts of the world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and it is celebrated across the world irrespective of religion and region today. The festival has been commercialised with retailers making good money selling costumes specially made for the occasion. And celebrities have made it even more popular, organising Halloween parties weeks before the actual day of the festival.