Today is Halloween. All over North America, in the UK, and in other countries, children will be knocking on the doors of nearby houses saying “Trick or Treat!” in the hope that they will be given sweets (if in the UK) or candy (in North America). And people will put candles inside grinning, hollowed out pumpkins.
Like a lot of festivals, Halloween began in pre-christian times, then became a date in the christian calendar, and is now a largely secular event. It is believed that the original festival at this time of year was to celebrate the end of summer. When the church adopted the occasion, it was as the eve of All Saints Day. The word hallow is another (old and mostly obsolete) word for saint, and so the day was known as All Hallows Eve, or All Hallows Even, shortened to Halloween, and sometimes written Hallowe’en. But unlike Christmas Eve, which is followed by the full celebration of Christmas Day, the day after Halloween goes largely unnoticed by many who join in the activities of the evening before.