All Hallow's Eve, October 31, is the eve of All
Although Halloween means "holy" or "hallowed" evening,
the evening preceding all Saints' Day
actually began as a pagan celebration after the spread of Christianity.
The original Druidic holiday, Samhain,
began many hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus.
Enemies of the church made fun of Christians
by worshipping the devil on Halloween.
The Druids celebrated their New Year's Eve on October 31.
They believed in the supernatural and tried to placate the Lord of Death.
They lit bonfires to honor the sun god and frighten away evil spirits.
The Druids also believed that witches rode on broomsticks
and that ghosts caused supernatural happenings.
The Romans observed the holiday of Feralia,
intended to give rest and peace to the departed.
Participants made sacrifices in honor of the dead,
offered up prayers for them, and made oblations to them.
The festival was celebrated on February 21, the end of the Roman year.
In the 7th century, Pope Boniface IV introduced All Saints' Day
to replace the pagan festival of the dead.
It was observed on May 13.
Later, Gregory III changed the date to November 1.
Todays Halloween traditions date back to these early periods
when people paraded through the streets in costumes and masks.
Celebrants blocked doors of houses, carried away gates and plows and tapped on windows.
In some places boys and girls dressed in clothing of the opposite sex
and wore masks while visiting neighbors to play tricks.
"Trick-or-treating" was initiated by the Irish when farmers would go
from house to house to collect food for the village.
Halloween is now known in the United States as a children's festival.
They dress in costumes and mask, going door to door
asking friends and neighbors for "Treats."