What are the origins of Halloween, why is it called Halloween and what day is the spooky holiday this year?

It’s that time of year when we start thinking about the first national autumnal event, Halloween.

Now that we have entered into the autumn season, people will be preparing for the next national holiday.

Preparations include shopping around for scary costumes and stocking up treats for when trick or treaters knock on your door - but what are the origins of Halloween and why is that its name?

Here is everything you need to know about Halloween.

Pumpkin carving. (Daniel Martino)Pumpkin carving. (Daniel Martino)
Pumpkin carving. (Daniel Martino)

What day is Halloween this year?

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Every year Halloween takes place on October 31, but the day may differ.

In 2019 Halloween was on a Thursday, in 2020 it was on a Saturday and in 2021 it was on a Sunday.

This year Halloween will fall on a Monday.

What is the history behind Halloween?

Halloween is believed to originate from Christian practices and traditions. It is thought to be the evening before the Christian holy days of All Hallows’ Day (All Saints’ Day) on November 1 and All Souls’ Day on November 2.

In the early days of the Church, major feasts in Christianity, like Christmas, Easter and Pentecost, hosted vigils which started the night before, as did the feast of All Hallows’.

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All three of these days are called Allhallowtide and they occur at a time when Western Christians honour all saints and pray for recently departed souls.

Over time, the holiday has become a popular celebration all over the world; traditional Halloween activities include trick or treating, Halloween costume parties, pumpkin carving, apple bobbing, pranks, ghost tours, lighting bonfires, telling scary stories and watching spooky films.

Why is it called Halloween?

The word Halloween or Hallowe’en historically comes from a Christian background. It is a term also called ‘All Hallows Eve’ which is attested in Old English.

The word Hallowe’en comes from the Scottish version of All Hallows’ Eve, which is the evening before All Hallows’ Day. Eve is short for ‘evening’ and is abbreviated to e’en or een, which is why it is now known as Halloween.

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