Halloween has been regarded up until the last few decades of the 20th century as primarily a children's holiday, in more recent years activities such as costume parties, themed decorations, and even trick-or-treating have grown increasingly popular with adults as well, making Halloween a celebration for all ages.
What does the name 'Halloween' mean? The name Halloween (originally spelled Hallowe'en) is a contraction of All Hallows Even, meaning the day before All Hallows Day (better known today as All Saints Day), a Catholic holiday commemorating Christian saints and martyrs observed since the early Middle Ages on November 1.
How and when did Halloween originate? The best available evidence indicates that Halloween originated in the early Middle Ages as a Catholic vigil observed on the eve of All Saints Day, November 1.
It has become commonplace to trace its roots even further back in time to a pagan festival of ancient Ireland known as Samhain (pronounced sow'-en or sow'-een), about which little is actually known. The prehistoric observance is said to have marked the end of summer and the onset of winter, and was celebrated with feasting, bonfires, sacrificial offerings, and homage to the dead.