Halloween is an autumn holiday that Americans celebrate every year. It means "holy evening," and it comes every October 31, the evening before All Saints' Day.
However, it is not really a church holiday, it is a holiday for children mainly.
Every autumn, when the vegetables are ready to eat, children pick large orange pumpkins. Then they cut faces in the pumpkins and put a burning candle inside.
It looks as if there were a person looking out of the pumpkin! These lights are called jack-o'-lanterns, which means "Jack of the lantern".
The children also put on strange masks and frightening costumes every Halloween. Some children paint their faces to look like monsters.
Then they carry boxes or bags from house to house. Every time they come to a new house, they say,"Trick or treat! Money or eat!" The grown-ups put treat-money or candy in their bags.
Not only children, but most grown-ups also love Halloween and Halloween parties because on this day,they can disguise themselves as personages or ghost as their imaginations will lead them. This bring them the satisfaction of being young.
【Symbols of Halloween】
Halloween originated as a celebration connected with evil spirits. Witches flying on broomsticks with ghosts, goblins and skeletons have all evolved as symbols of Halloween.
Bats, owls and other nocturnal animals are also popular symbols of Halloween.
They were originally feared because people believed that these creatures could communicate with the spirits of the dead.
Black cats are also symbols of Halloween and have religious origins as well. Black cats were considered to be reincarnated beings with the ability to divine the future.
During the Middle Ages it was believed that witches could turn themselves into black cats.
Thus when such a cat was seen, it was considered to be a witch in disguise. All these are popular trick-or-treat costumes and decorations for greeting cards and windows.
Black is one of the traditional Halloween colors, probably because Halloween festivals and traditions took place at night.
Pumpkins are also a symbol of Halloween. The pumpkin is an orange-colored squash, and orange has become the other traditional Halloween color.
Carving pumpkins into jack- o'-lanterns is a Halloween custom also dating back to Ireland.
A legend grew up about a man named Jack who was so stingy that he was not allowed into heaven when he died, because he was a miser.
He couldn't enter hell either because he had played jokes on the devil. As a result, Jack had to walk on the earth with his lantern until Judgement Day. So Jack and his lantern became the symbol of a lost or damned soul.
To scare these souls away on Halloween, the Irish people carved scary faces out of turnips, beets or potatoes representing "Jack of the Lantern," or Jack-o-lantern.
When the Irish brought their customs to the United States, they carved faces on pumpkins because in the autumn they were more plentiful than turnips.
Today jack-o-lanterns in the windows of a house on Halloween night let costumed children know that there are goodies waiting if they knock and say "Trick or Treat!"