Halloween or Hallowe'en (a contraction of 'All Hallows' evening'), also known as Allhalloween, All Hallows' Eve, or All Saints' Eve, is a celebration observed in many countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows' Day. It begins the observance of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed. One theory holds that many Halloween traditions may have been influenced by ancient Celtic harvest festivals, particularly the Gaelic festival Samhain, which may have had pagan roots, some scholars hold that Samhain may have been Christianized as All Hallow's Day, along with its eve, by the early Church. Other academics believe, however, that Halloween began solely as a Christian holiday, being the vigil of All Hallow's Day. Halloween activities include trick-or-treating (or the related guising and souling), attending Halloween costume parties, carving pumpkins into jack-o'-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, divination games, playing pranks, visiting haunted attractions, telling scary stories, as well as watching horror films. For some people, the Christian religious observances of All Hallows' Eve, including attending church services and lighting candles on the graves of the dead, remain popular, although for others it is a secular celebration. Some Christians historically abstained from meat on All Hallows' Eve, a tradition reflected in the eating of certain vegetarian foods on this vigil day, including apples, potato pancakes, and soul cakes. Etymology The word Halloween or Hallowe'en dates to about 1745 and is of Christian origin. The word Hallowe'en means 'Saints' evening'. It comes from a Scottish term for All Hallows' Eve (the evening before All Hallows' Day). In Scots, the word eve is even, and this is contracted to e'en or een. Over time, (All) Hallow(s) E(v)en evolved into Hallowe'en.
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