Halloween can be traced back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III adopted some of the traditions of Samhain into All Saints’ Day celebrated on November 1st. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve which would later become Halloween.
In the U.S. during colonial times, Halloween was celebrated in Maryland and the southern colonies. As the beliefs and customs of different European ethnic groups combined with the American Indians, a new American version of Halloween began to emerge. The first celebrations included "play parties" held to celebrate the harvest. People would share stories of the dead, tell each other’s fortunes, dance and sing. Colonial Halloween festivities also featured the telling of ghost stories and mischief-making of all kinds. By the middle of the nineteenth century, annual autumn festivities were common, but Halloween was not yet celebrated everywhere in the country.
Over time, Halloween has evolved into a community-based event characterized by activities for kids such as trick-or-treating. While it takes different forms in different countries/cultures, Halloween has become a tradition celebrated around the world where people continue to usher in the winter season and honor those who have passed with gatherings, costumes and sweet treats.
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