Halloween has origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain (pronounced sow-in), which means roughly “summer’s end”. This Gaelic festival was celebrated mainly in Ireland and Scotland. It marked the end of summer and harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night of the 31st October the worlds of the living and the dead became thin and blurred and that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. It is believed that the need to ward off harmful spirits led to the wearing of costumes and masks.

With its roots in Celtic cultures, Halloween is not celebrated in all countries and regions of the world, and among those that do the traditions and importance of the celebration vary significantly. Celebration in the United States has seen a significant impact on how the holiday is observed in other nations. The history of Halloween traditions in a given country also lends context to how it is presently celebrated. But many countries have been influenced by the strongly commercialised version as celebrated in the USA. This to the benefit of many confectionary and costume makers.

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