noun \ˌha-lə-ˈwēn, ˌhä-\

: the night of October 31 when children dress up as ghosts, witches, monsters, etc., and go to houses to ask for candy

Full Definition of HALLOWEEN

:  October 31 observed especially with dressing up in disguise, trick-or-treating, and displaying jack-o'-lanterns during the evening

Variants of HALLOWEEN

Hal·low·een also Hal·low·e'en \ˌha-lə-ˈwēn, ˌhä-\


short for All Hallow Even (All Saints' Eve)
First Known Use: circa 1700

Other Calendar Terms

antedate, estival, gloaming, luster, sesquicentennial


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Holiday observed on October 31, the eve of All Saints' Day. Its pagan origins can be traced to the Celtic festival of Samhain, celebrated in ancient England and Ireland to mark the beginning of the Celtic new year. The souls of the dead were supposed to revisit their homes on Samhain eve, and witches, goblins, black cats, and ghosts were said to roam abroad. The night was also thought to be the most favorable time for divinations concerning marriage, luck, health, and death. The pagan observances influenced the Christian festival of All Hallows' Eve, celebrated on the same date. The holiday was gradually secularized and was introduced into the U.S. by the late 19th century. Still associated with evil spirits and the supernatural, it is celebrated by children in costume who gather candy by ringing doorbells and calling out “trick or treat,” “trick” referring to the pranks and vandalism that are also part of the Halloween tradition.


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