Halloween is a yearly celebration observed on 31 October by Western Christians and non-Christians around the world. Also called "Hallowe'en", "All Hallows' Eve," and "All Saints' Eve," Halloween is celebrated on the eve of All Hallows (or All Saints), a time Christians remember the dead and saints by conducting church services, prayers and fasting.
According to Halloween History website, Halloween originated in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain, which celebrates the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture. Samhain was a time used by the ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and prepare for winter. The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased would come back to life and cause havoc such as sickness or damaged crops.
The festival would frequently involve bonfires, attracting insects and bats to the area. People wore masks and costumes in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or appease them, according to the website. The celebrations spread to North America in the nineteenth century and to other parts of the world in the twentieth century.
The word Halloween dates back to about 1745 and it means "hallowed evening" or "holy evening". The word eventually evolved into Halloween over time. Some scholars argue that it has Christian roots while others say that it has pagan roots.
Traditionally, celebrations include costume parties, making bonfire, trick-or-treating or guising, apple bobbing, making jack-o-lanterns, divination, playing pranks and visiting haunted houses.
During the Middle Ages, children, especially the poor would go from door to door wearing Halloween costumes and begged for treats in return for prayers for the departed souls. It was the media which popularized the festival in the 1900s. Newspapers and magazines started writing on trick-or-treating carried out by children while radio and television came up with several programmes on the festival.
Today, Halloween is celebrated around the world irrespective of religion. The participation of celebrities in Halloween parties wearing weird, scary and funny costumes has made it all the more popular.