For those that don't know what all the fuss is about, Halloween (aka: Hallowe'en) was kind of a cross between the Celtic Samhain (the celebration of summer's end) and the Christian All Saint's Day (to honor all the saints), but it is now a secular holiday without much emphasis on religion.
Halloween falls on the 31st of October each year, and it is celebrated with lots of strange customs like dressing in costumes, wearing masks, playing tricks on people, giving out candy (to avoid such tricks, which is called Trick-or-Treat), watching horror movies, and all kinds of fun, spooky festivities.
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Long have humanity's eyes been focused on the skies for signs of intelligent life and even guidance. [Source] With the mysterious nature of aliens and UFOs, is it any wonder that these intergalactic beings, real or imagined, might scare the living bejeezus out of some people? In modern days, these X-Files types of reports have impacted our modern celebration of spookiness. This is why we decided to include aliens in our Halloween feature.
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As stated below, witches were historically thought to have supernatural powers. Some even believed that a black cat was actually a witch that had taken the shape of an animal. Cats have a long history of being feared and revered by people of varying cultures. Because of their mysterious ways, cats were sometimes kept by witches as pets. Some even believed that cats could see into the netherworld of spirits and the dead as well as they can see at night. The practice of hunting witches during Halloween often resulted in the torture and death of black cats. Poor kitties!
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Trick-or-Treating is a common children's tradition of dressing up in a costume and visiting neighbors, local businesses and family members for candy. Costumed children ring the doorbell and ask, "Trick or treat?" It's considered a loose threat that if a treat isn't offered, the children may prank the homeowner. Since most Trick-or-Treaters are accompanied by parents nowadays, the threat is very small. If one doesn't wish to give treats, it's customary to simply leave one's house light off during Halloween Eve. This tells the little beggars that you're out of candy. Trick-or-Treating origin stories vary, but its roots, like many Halloween traditions, may go as far back as the ancient Celts.
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"Of the 35,000 species of spiders, only 27 species are known to have caused human fatalities." [Source] But it's no wonder how some critters became part of Halloween tradition. Their very nature (such as venom filled fangs) can inspire fear. Just in case you're wondering, the Brazilian wandering spider is largely considered the most dangerous of spiders. Their aggressive disposition and seriously venomous bite are responsible for the most human fatalities in the spider family.
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According to Wikipedia, the Jack-o-Lantern is an old tradition from Britain and Ireland, where people carved lanterns out of vegetables as a common practice. In the US, pumpkin carving was associated with harvest time in the mid-1800s. "Jack" of the lantern is most likely from an Irish tale about a man who tricked the Devil. This legend differs from place to place, but it usually has to do with a man that the Devil refuses to take to Hell. Nowadays, the carving of pumpkins is a popular family activity and decoration for Halloween.
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Like the undead (see below), other types of monsters have been feared throughout the ages across the globe. Humans have a long history of fearing the unknown, the things that go bump in the night. From dragons and gargoyles to Jekyll and Hyde, every culture has it's legendary fiends that stalk the human race and seek to do harm. So it is on Halloween that people have used these familiar icons to ward off evil - or just to find some inspiration for costumes! Of course, the worst monsters in history have always been actual human beings.
Free Undead Avatars:
The word "undead" is a collective term which includes, but is not limited to the following entities: ghosts, vampires, zombies, ghouls, mummies, and animated skeletons. One may think that the undead would be the brainchild of Hollywood film makers, but the fear of the dead coming back to life (or unlife) is an ancient concept. Each type of undead has it's own mythology and history. Many cultures have stories and even customs related to the idea of the living dead. In it's most ancient roots, much of Halloween is about keeping these kinds of spirits away or at peace with the living.
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The word "witch" refers to male and female practitioners of witchcraft, which has often been feared in various cultures all over the world. In many cases throughout history, witches were blamed for people's misfortunes and sometimes even hunted and put to death. Today, most of this type of superstition is widely considered nonsense. Modern witches are generally followers of Wicca, a religion that mainly deals with nature. These practitioners study things like herbalism, astronomy, and many other natural sciences. Witches typically celebrate Samhain (the harvest season) rather than Halloween.
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