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Halloween is celebrated on October 31. In America and Britain, children dress up as their favourite scary creature and go from door to door, collecting treats or threatening tricks instead.

Read the reasons behind the celebration of this festival.

In ancient Britain, the Celts celebrated the fire-festival of Samhain on October 31. This day marked the end of summer, the close of the harvest season and the return of the herds from pasture. It was also the eve of the New Year in both Celtic and Anglo Saxon times and the date when laws and land tenures were renewed.

For the ancient Celts, the turning of one year into the next was a magical time. The souls of the dead were believed to revisit their homes on this night. Fairies, who were dangerous and hostile to humans, were also believed to be especially active on this night, waiting to trick people into fairy mounds and keep them trapped forever. To protect themselves against such evil spirits, the ancient Celts lit huge bonfires on this night - which thus became a fire-festival. Over time, human imagination filled this night with all sorts of witches, hobgoblins, black cats, demons and fairies roaming around.

Halloween cont'd...  next page
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Last updated: April 2010. Copyright © Rohini Chowdhury 2002. All rights reserved.

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