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Halloween is an annual holiday celebrated on October 31. It has roots in the Celtic festival of Samhain and the Christian holy day of All Saints, but is today largely a secular celebration. Halloween activities include trick-or-treating, wearing costumes and attending costume parties, carving jack-o'-lanterns, ghost tours, bonfires, visiting haunted attractions, pranks, telling scary stories, and watching horror films.
Historian Nicholas Rogers, exploring the origins of Halloween, notes that while "some folklorists have detected its origins in the Roman feast of Pomona, the goddess of fruits and seeds, or in the festival of the dead called Parentalia, more typically linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain or Samuin".The name is derived from Old Irish and means roughly "summer's end". A similar festival was held by the ancient Britons and is known as Calan Gaeaf. The festival of Samhain celebrates the end of the "lighter half" of the year and beginning of the "darker half", and is sometimes regarded as the "Celtic New Year".The celebration has some elements of a festival of the dead. The ancient Celts believed that the border between this world and the Otherworld became thin on Samhain, allowing spirits (both harmless and harmful) to pass through. The family's ancestors were honoured and invited home whilst harmful spirits were warded off. It is believed that the need to ward off harmful spirits led to the wearing of costumes and masks. Their purpose was to disguise oneself as a harmful spirit and thus avoid harm. In Scotland the spirits were impersonated by young men dressed in white with masked, veiled or blackened faces. Samhain was also a time to take stock of food supplies and slaughter livestock for winter stores. Bonfires played a large part in the festivities.
2009-11-03 11:12:51 補充：
All other fires were doused and each home lit their hearth from the bonfire. The bones of slaughtered livestock were cast into its flames. Sometimes two bonfires would be built side-by-side, and people and their livestock would walk between them as a cleansing ritual.
2009-11-03 11:13:12 補充：
Another common practise was divination, which often involved the use of food and drink.The name 'Halloween' and many of its present-day traditions derive from the Old English era.
2009-11-03 11:14:18 補充：
Trick-or-treating is a customary celebration for children on Halloween. Children go in costume from house to house, asking for treats such as candy or sometimes money, with the question, "Trick or treat?"
2009-11-03 11:14:33 補充：
The word "trick" refers to a (mostly idle) threat to perform mischief on the homeowners or their property if no treat is given.
2009-11-03 11:14:46 補充：
In some parts of Ireland and Scotland children still go guising. In this custom the child performs some sort of show, i.e. sings a song or tells a ghost story, in order to earn their treats. Halloween costumes are traditionally those of monsters such as ghosts, skeletons, witches, and devils.
2009-11-03 11:14:51 補充：
They are said to be used to scare off demons. Costumes are also based on themes other than traditional horror, such as those of characters from television shows, movies, and other pop culture icons.
2009-11-03 11:15:04 補充：
Because the holiday comes in the wake of the annual apple harvest, candy apples (known as toffee apples outside North America), caramel or taffy apples are a common Halloween treat made by rolling whole apples in a sticky sugar syrup, sometimes followed by rolling them in nuts.
2009-11-03 11:15:21 補充：
At one time, candy apples were commonly given to children, but the practice rapidly waned in the wake of widespread rumors that some individuals were embedding items like pins and razor blades in the apples.
2009-11-03 11:15:44 補充：
While there is evidence of such incidents, they are quite rare and have never resulted in serious injury. Nonetheless, many parents assumed that such heinous practices were rampant.
2009-11-03 11:16:01 補充：
At the peak of the hysteria, some hospitals offered free x-rays of children's Halloween hauls in order to find evidence of tampering.
2009-11-03 11:16:06 補充：
Virtually all of the few known candy poisoning incidents involved parents who poisoned their own children's candy, and there have been occasional reports of children putting needles in their own (and other children's) candy in need of a bit of attention.
2009-11-03 11:16:23 補充：
One custom that persists in modern-day Ireland is the baking of a barmbrack, which is a light fruitcake, into which a plain ring, a coin and other charms are placed before baking. It is said that those who get a ring will find their true love in the ensuing year.
2009-11-03 11:16:35 補充：
This is similar to the tradition of king cake at the festival of Epiphany.
2009-11-03 11:16:40 補充：
Halloween is not celebrated in all countries and regions of the world, and among those that do the traditions and importance of the celebration vary significantly. Celebration in the United States has had a significant impact on how the holiday is observed in other nations.
2009-11-03 11:17:04 補充：
This larger American influence, particularly in iconic and commercial elements, has extended to places such as South America, Europe, to Japan under the auspices of the Japanese Biscuit Association, and the Far East.Source(s): , 以上全自於http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween