As the summer season comes to a close, many are excited about the start of autumn and the countdown to one of the most festive holidays of the year: Halloween.
Families across the globe mark the day with various activities and traditions ranging from carving pumpkins to wearing impressive costumes and trick or treating.
Today, Halloween has become synonymous with ghosts, skeletons, vampires, and a long list of other spooky beings, but did you ever wonder what the origins of the occasion were?
Here is a comprehensive look at Halloween, including when it will be celebrated this year and what its origins are.
When is Halloween 2023?
Traditionally known as All Hallows’ Evening, Halloween 2023 will fall on Tuesday, October 31.
It is always held on the eve of the Christian festival of All Saints’ Day on November 1 and marks the start of the three-day observance of Allhallowtide, which ends with All Souls' Day on November 2.
European in origin, Halloween dates back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, which was a day held to honour the end of the harvest season and means “summer’s end” in Gaelic.
What is Samhain?
It is thought the pagan Samhain was Christianised into Halloween by the early church, and modern-day customs often have their roots in folklore, pagan beliefs, and early Christianity.
The word Halloween itself is a Scots term for All Hallows Eve—basically, the evening before All Saints’ Day.
Historically, Celts thought the walls between the spiritual realm and our world were thin. In order to protect their crops, they would set up places at their dinner tables for good spirits and light bonfires to scare off evil spirits.
Trick or treating and dressing up came from 16th-century Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. People would ask for food in exchange for a poem or song. People dressed up in scary costumes and impersonated the souls of the dead to protect themselves.
Why do we celebrate Halloween in the UK?
Halloween became commercialised over time, from the influences of pop culture, especially from America in the 20th century. It is celebrated by both children and adults, whether they are going to parties or carving pumpkins.
Trick or treating was coined by the Americans, who evolved the British tradition of “souling” or “guising” to the main event for children as we know it today.
How to celebrate Halloween in 2023
As the only day of the year when we have a real excuse to go all out with the fancy dress, lots of people will be heading out trick or treating and to Halloween parties.
As the date draws closer, heaps of events will be revealed for those who want to make the most out of the occasion.
However, if you want to organise your own spooky itinerary, here's our list of the five most haunted places in London that you might want to stop by.