Origins of Hallowe’en

All Saints’ Day, formerly All Hallows Day, is November 1st each year. The night before was called All Hallows Even or Eve now shortened to Hallowe’en. Hallow is a variation on the word “holy.” All Hallows or All Saints is a feast day to honour all Christian saints. What started as a spring event was changed in 835 by Pope Gregory IV to November 1st and coincided with the Pagan ritual called Samhain where it was said the boundaries between living and dead thinned. This made it easier for the souls of the dead to visit the living, not unlike the Dia del Muerte, the Mexican Day of the Dead, celebrated on November 2nd. The costumes, the candy and carving a pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern came from the Samhain tradition. Also, the Church’s practice of souling, going from home to home asking for cakes in return for praying for the souls in the house, was probably the precursor of our present day trick-or-treating.