Halloween, or Hallowe'en, a holiday celebrated on the night of October 31, is a mix of ancient Celtic practices, Catholic and Roman religious rituals and European folk traditions that blended together over time to create the holiday we know today.
Shades: Throughout ancient history, Shades meant the spirit of a dead person, residing in the underworld.
Carving gourds into elaborately decorated lanterns dates back thousands of years to Africa.
The ancient Celts believed that wearing masks would ward off evil spirits.
Samhain: The Festival of Samhain is a celebration of the end of the Gaelic harvest season.
Gaels believed that the border between this world and the otherworld became thin on Sambain; because animals and plants were dying, it allowed the dead to reach back through the veil that separated them from the living.
Bonfires played a major role in the Festival of Samhain. Celebrants wore costumes, mostly skins and animal heads, and danced around bonfires.
By A.D. 43, Romans had conquered much of Celtic territory. Two Roman festivals were combined with the Celtic celebration of Samhain: Feralia, a day in late October when Romans commemorated the passing of the dead, and a day to honor Pomona, Roman goddess of fruit and trees.
Werewolf: The original werewolf of classical mythology, Lycaon, a king of Arcadia who, according to Ovid's Metamorphoses, was turned into a ravenous wolf by Zeus. Possibly the source of the term lycanthropy.
In the Roman Catholic church, a commemoration of "All Martyrs" was celebrated between mid April and early May.
The festival of All Siants dates to May 13 in 609 or 610, when Pope Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon at Rome.
This date was an ancient pagan observation, the end of the Feast of the Lemures, in which the evil and restless spirits of all the dead were appeased.
Pope Gregory III designated November 1st All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs.
Many believe the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday.
Saint Boniface declared that belief in the existence of witches was un-Christian.
The Catholic church made November 2nd All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead.
The three Catholic celebrations, the eve of All Saints', All Saints', and All Souls', were called Hallowmas.
Carved turnips in Ireland and Scotland are used as candle lanterns in windows to ward off harmful spirits.
Soul cakes, often simply referred to as souls, were given out to soulers (mainly consisting of children and the poor) who would go from door to door on Hallowmas singing and saying prayers for the dead. Each cake eaten would represent a soul being freed from Purgatory.