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!"
Children in costumes race from house to house asking for treats. A carved pumpkin， called a jack-o'-lantern， grins from a porch as the children pass. According to legend， jack-o'-lanterns protect people in their homes from ghostly spirits.
It's all part of the fun on Halloween! The roots of Halloween stretch back thousands of years and borrow customs from several parts of the world.
WHAT IS HALLOWEEN?
Halloween is a holiday celebrated on October 31. By tradition， Halloween begins after sunset. Long ago， people believed that witches gathered together and ghosts roamed the world on Halloween. Today， most people no longer believe in ghosts and witches. But these supernatural beings are still a part of Halloween.
The colors black and orange are also a part of Halloween. Black is a symbol for night and orange is the color of pumpkins. A jack-o'-lantern is a hollowed-out pumpkin with a face carved on one side. Candles are usually placed inside， giving the face a spooky glow.
DRESSING IN COSTUMES
Dressing in masks and costumes is a popular Halloween activity. Costumes can be traditional and scary， such as a witch's pointy hat and black gown. Costumes may also have a modern flavor. Many children dress up as movie characters or a favorite superhero.
But Halloween is not just for children. Many adults enjoy showing off their costumes at Halloween parties!
Once in costume， children go from house to house saying "Trick or treat!" In the past， children might play a "trick" on people who did not give treats. They might pelt houses with eggs or old tomatoes， or play other pranks. Today， children's cries of "Trick or treat!" are usually rewarded with candy.