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Hallowe'en

Hallow is an old English word meaning holy.Hallowe'en is the shortened form of All-Hallow-Even, which meant the eve of the Christian feast of All Saints Day.

All Saint's Day

This is a Christian festival celebrated on November 1 in the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches in honour of God and all his saints, known and unknown. It became established as a church festival early in the 7th century when the Pantheonin Rome was consecrated as the Church of the Blessed Virgin and All Martyrs. Pope Gregory IV (died 844) gave the custom official authorization in 835.

The feast of All Saints, when the souls of the faithful are honoured and remembered, falls on November the first. The church chose this day as the people were accustomed to remembering the dead at this time of year. The pre-Christian traditions were full of ghosts and witches and fear of the dark. In Celtic Britain, November the first was not only the first day of winter, but also the first Hallowe'en today is a mixture of all the old customs. The bonfires are now lit on November the fifth in England to celebrate Guy Fawkes' attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament. In other countries the fires light the Hallowe'en celebrations.

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"What is Hallowe'en ?"

Hallowe'en is celebrated on 31st October, in the autumn. On November 1st people go to church and to the cemetries to remember dead relatives.
A long time ago people were scared of spirits, they were afraid of the bad spirits of dead people. They painted their faces to scare the bad spirits away from their homes.
Hallowe'en is a time to dress up and have fun in many countries. Children wear many different costumes. Some dress up as witches or ghosts, some children wear animal costumes. Children in America go from house to house with their costumes on. They ring at door bells and say "trick or treat ?" The treat is fruit, sweets or sometimes money. People decorate their houses. Children like to eat candy spiders.
Here in Catalonia we do not celebrate Hallowe'en, but a festival called "la castaņada" we eat hot chestnuts and sweet potatoes.

Carla Canals and Paola Masfurroll.

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Witches and ghosts.
Witches and ghosts are now just part of Hallowe'en fun, but for hundreds of years the witch and her broomstick were taken very seriously indeed. People believed that witches were friends of the evil spirits which wandered about on Hallowe'en.

The tradition of wearing masks at Hallowe'en began as a way to frighten the witches and spirits away. Scottish children now wear masks and dress up like ghosts, which they call ghoulies and kelpies, and knock on doors to ask for nuts and apples and money. broomstick.gif (1754 bytes)

Trick or treat
In the United States and Canada, children have the same tradition, which they call trick or treat. Carrying lanterns and dressed like witches and ghosts in orange and black, the traditional Hallowe'en colours, the children go from door to door threatening to trick their neighbours if they are not treated to the traditional sweets wrapped in orange and black paper. broomstick.gif (1754 bytes)

Apples and apple games.
Bobbing apples and swinging apples are two traditional games for Hallowe'en. The apples float in bowls of water or swing on the ends of string. The aim of the game is to take a bite: of the apple without using your hands. Apple games began because the Celts believed that the silver branches of the apple tree helped dead souls to pass into their heaven, called Avalon. broomstick.gif (1754 bytes)

Lanterns.
Pumpkins, turnips and swedes are part of winter's crop and are now used to light Hallowe'en parties. The inside of the vegetable is hollowed out and slits made in it to represent eyes, nose and mouth. A candle is then put inside the vegetable lantern, so that the eerie face can light the celebrations.

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