Get out your most spooky costume, and crack out some horror DVDs... Halloween is on the way! But how did the festival begin in the first place?


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It's almost time to deck your house out in fake cobwebs, pick out an inventive costume, and stock up on sweets... That's right, Halloween is just around the corner!

The annual fright-fest is celebrated on October 31, and this year, the event falls on a Monday.

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If you'd like to know more about the celebration, here's all you need to know about the origins of Halloween, and how the spooky festival is celebrated in other countries!

How did Halloween begin?

Halloween began as the festival of Samhain and its origins date back thousands of years to pagan times.

During this time, Celtic people would hold a festival around the end of October which would mark the end of summer and the harvest, and the beginning of the dark and cold winter.

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People believed that, at this time of year, the spirits of dead people could come alive and would revisit the mortal world and so the pagans threw huge parties, lit bonfires and wore costumes to ward off evil spirits.

Decades later, Christianity became more prominent and Halloween became known as All Hallows' Eve, the day before All Saints Day, on November 1.

The origins of Halloween in America...

It was America who made Halloween the event that it is today.

Irish immigrants flooded America after fleeing Ireland's potato famine in 1846, and the Americans took inspiration from English and Irish traditions and began to dress up in costumes to go from house to house asking for food or money.

From then on, Halloween became more about celebrations as America transformed the event into a holiday more about community. They held parties for children and adults and focused more on food, games and festive costumes.

Parents were encouraged to take anything frightening out of Halloween, and so it lost most of its superstition and religious meaning.


How did pumpkins become popular?

Formerly known as the Jack O' Lantern, carved pumpkins came from old Irish folk telling tales of Jack, a lazy farmer who used a cross to trap the Devil, and said he would only set it free if it did not take his soul.

Jack's life had been too sinful for him to go to heaven, but because the Devil had promised not to take his soul, he was also barred from hell, and so he had nowhere to go.

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After asking how he would see where to go because he had no light, Jack was given an ember that would never burn out. He carved one of his turnips and put the ember inside it and wandered the Earth for a resting place.

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How do other countries celebrate Halloween?

Mexico, Latin America and Spain celebrate All Souls Day which takes place on November 2. The celebration honours the dead, who they believe return to their earthly homes on Halloween. Austria's traditional celebration involves bread, water and a lit lamp as they welcome dead souls back to earth. Belgium lights candles in memory of dead relatives. Canada is the same as America and UK, with carved pumpkins and trick-or-treating a normal part of celebrations. In China, Halloween is known as Teng Chieg. Bonfires and lanterns are lit to light the paths of the spirits as they travel to earth on Halloween night. France doesn't celebrate Halloween to honour the dead, but because of their love of parties and costume events, there has been more acknowledgement of the event in more recent years.

Germans put their knives away on Halloween night, to not risk harm to or from returning spirits.