Halloween to be celebrated with COVID-19 restrictions tomorrow: From history to significance, all you need to know

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Many countries celebrate 31 October as Halloween every year. Kids dress up in (often frightening) costumes, and go out in groups for trick or treating. People decorate their houses and institutions for Halloween-themed parties. The festival has its origins some 2,000 years back and the day was believed to have relations with death and cold winter months.

This year, Halloween is going to be celebrated on Saturday (31 OCtober) but the ongoing pandemic is going to restrict festivities to households only.

According to History, Halloween originated from an ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts lived around 2,000 years ago and they marked the end of harvest season and beginning of the cold, harsh winters on the last day of October.

They celebrated New Years' Day on 1 November and believed that the day before was when the boundaries between the living and the dead were blurred and hence dead people could travel back to the earth. Celtic people lived in the regions in modern day Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, and erected bonfires to celebrate Samhain.

It was a belief that Druids or Celtic priests were able to foretell fortunes better on this day than any other day. So on 31 October, Celts would wear costumes made out of animal skins and attempt to make prophecies around the bonfires.

The report notes that as the Roman Empire had started ruling the Celts in the coming centuries, two of their festivals merged with Samhain. Pope Gregory III later designated 1 November as a time to honour all saints and called it the All Saints' Day. This day was also called the All-hallows or All-hallowmas and hence the previous day started being referred to as All-hallows Eve and later Halloween.

While the old Celtic festival stayed restricted to colonial England, it slowly made its way into the US and other countries and now has become a mystic day when people carve out lanterns in pumpkins, dress up in spooky costumes and are largely non-religious.

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