Halloween is an annual holiday observed on October 31st, which commonly includes activities such as trick-or-treating, attending costume parties, carving jack-o-lanterns, bonfires, apple bobbing, visiting haunted attractions, playing pranks, telling scary stories and watching horror films.
A bit of History
Halloween is typically linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain, whose original spelling was Samuin. The name of the festival historically kept by the Gaels and Celts in the British isles is derived from Old Irish and means roughly "summer's end".
According to the Oxford Dictionary of English Folklore: "Certainly Samhain was a time for festive gatherings, and medieval Irish texts and later Irish, Welsh and Scottish folklore use it as a setting for supernatural encounters, but there is no evidence that it was connected with the dead in pre-Christian times, or that pagan religious ceremonies were held".
The Irish myths which mention Samhain were written in the 10th and 11th centuries by Christian monks. This is around 200 years after the Catholic church inaugurated All Saints Day and at least 400 years after Ireland became Christian.
Around the world
Halloween isn't celebrated in all countries and regions of the world, and among those that do the traditions and importance of the celebration vary significantly. In Scotland and Ireland traditional Halloween customs include children dressing up in costume going "guising" and holding parties, while other practices in ireland include lighting bonfires and having firework displays.
Mass transatlantic immigrations in the 19th century popularized Halloween in North America, and celebration in the United States and Canada has had a significant impact on how the event is observed in other nations. This larger North American influence, particularly in iconic and commercial elements, has extended to places such as South America, Australia, New Zealand, continental Europe, Japan and other parts of East Asia.