All Hallows' Eve

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"The night it is gude Halloween
The fairie folk do ride..."

Hallowe'en, also known as All Hallow's Eve, is a holiday that has almost ingrained itself into American life and, in turn, the global culture.

The roots of what we now know as Halloween are descended from two holidays: the Catholic celebration of All Saints' Day, and the Celtic pagan festival of Samhain (pronounced "sah-win"), which marked the last harvest, the end of foraging for livestock, and the beginning of winter. "Halloween" is short for All Hallows' Eve, the evening before All Saints' Day. Originally, in the seventh century, it was celebrated in May or April, right after Easter. A few centuries later, All Saints' Day was shifted to November, a change that originated in Germany before spreading through the Roman Catholic world. The Orthodox churches continue to celebrate it in April, as did the Irish for a time, as Celtic mythology also held it to be the day when the barrier between the mortal and spirit realms grew thin, as they wanted to keep the holiday free from such associations.

Nevertheless, works of fiction (and allegedly fact-based news reports about the feast) have been known to overstate the influence of Samhain on Halloween.

Halloween was imported to the US and Canada in the 19th century, a time that saw substantial Irish and Scottish migration to the New World. Back in this time, Halloween in North America was more of a celebration of Irish and Scottish heritage than anything else, much like Columbus Day is for Italian Americans. It was celebrated with large feasts, apple bobbing, and divination games, as well as pranks and mischief. By the turn of the century, the "pranks and mischief" had become the defining feature of Halloween, turning it into a night of vandalism. As a result, the Boy Scouts and neighborhood groups started working to turn Halloween back into a safe celebration, organizing trick-or-treating events based around the old practice of "guising" to redirect the focus of the festivities away from violence. With Halloween now becoming a popular celebration outside of Welsh, Irish and Scottish neighborhoods, retailers seized upon a brilliant opportunity to have a new holiday to commercialize. While there was some commercialization going on before (mass-produced costumes were appearing in the 1930s), it really took off after World War II, and it hasn't stopped since. Sometime around the Turn of the Millennium came the emergence of the Hotter and Sexier Halloween for young adults, opening up a whole secondary market for businesses to cater to.

Today, Halloween is considered a major holiday in the US, Canada, Mexico (where it has a more Catholic bent, as it falls right before the Día de los Muertos celebrations), and the British Isles (where it is more strongly influenced by the older traditions, particularly in Ireland, Scotland, Northern England and Wales). It has also caught on in mainland Europe, India, the Philippines, and Japan through exposure to American media.

For televised works centering around the holiday, see Halloween Special and Halloween Episode.


In popular culture:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Mentioned in one story arc in Umineko: When They Cry where Maria loves Halloween because of its association with witches. She wants to go trick or treating despite the fact that it is not a practice done in Japan.

    Comic Books 
  • A disproportionate number of EC Comics stories take place on Halloween. To name a few: "Halloween!", "Sugar 'N Spice 'N...", "The October Game,"

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The horror/comedy anthology film Trick 'r Treat is based around the holiday, and proudly features many of the tropes surrounding it (including the popular conception of Halloween as an old Celtic pagan holiday).
  • The classic 1978 slasher flick Halloween involves masked killer Michael Myers slashing his way through his hometown on (of course) Halloween. The other films in the subsequent franchise all take place on the holiday as well.
    • Halloween III: Season of the Witch was an attempt to create an anthology series, but poor response scrapped these ideas and the producers have kept using Myers for the rest of the series. The plot of the film revolves around a man who believes that Halloween has grown too commercialized and has lost touch with its roots in pagan tradition, and seeks to restore that tradition by using his toy company and some Stonehenge-powered magitek to carry out a mass Human Sacrifice.
  • Mean Girls has a scene where Cady goes to a Halloween party. The sluttiness of the women's Halloween costumes is both parodied and exploited for fanservice.
  • A Halloween party in Night of the Demons (1988) and its sequels serves as a catalyst to demonic activity.
  • Kenny & Co follows a young boy and his friends' everyday lives over a few days leading up to Halloween. That gave the director some ideas...
  • Hocus Pocus is set on Halloween.
  • Halloweentown, of course.
  • Funsize, a teen comedy which takes place mostly on Halloween night.
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial takes place a few days before, during and a couple more days after Halloween.
  • Arsenic and Old Lace actually takes place on Halloween, although the only real nod to the holiday comes early on when some trick-or-treaters visit (in the daytime!).
  • Left Bank features Samhain as the climactic ending night of the film when the human sacrifice is performed.
  • Casper happens around Halloween, ending at a Halloween party specifically.

    Literature 
  • The Dresden Files: Harry's birthday is on Halloween. Which is unfortunate, as spirits tend to get restless that night each year. A plot point in Dead Beat, as Halloween is the optimal night to set off the Darkhallow. This is justified in Cold Days as this night is when the world of Nevernever and human realm are at their closest. The result is the possibility for a mortal to become immortal and for an immortal to be killed this night. Immortals also use this night to recharge some strength by devouring mortals. It was the second or third Merlin who started the custom of dressing as creatures, so immortals would be unsure if their target was mortal or something else. And All Hallows Eve does not end at sunrise, but the first birdsong is sung.
  • Claire Byrd the ghost who possesses Lori from Aunt Dimity Beats the Devil, was born on October 31st.
  • Harry Potter frequently features Halloween festivities at Hogwarts, most notably in The Philosopher's Stone and The Half-Blood Prince. It is also worth noting that October 31, 1981 is the date that Harry's parents were murdered.
  • In Seanan McGuire's Velveteen Vs, Autumn is an alternate universe, and Halloween is a very powerful force in it.
  • The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury takes a group of boys through the history of Halloween as they try to save their missing friend.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Halloween Specials and Halloween Episodes, by their very nature.
  • In the Buffyverse, Halloween is a day of rest for supernatural forces (vampires, demons, etc.), who view the whole celebration as tacky. Buffy the Vampire Slayer also did its requisite Halloween episodes in seasons 2, 4, and 6, with spinoff Angel doing one in season 5.
  • American Horror Story: Murder House had the requisite Halloween episode (a two-parter, actually), but notable is how the actual holiday is treated in the show's universe. Specifically, it conflates Halloween with Samhain; it is the day when the barrier between the worlds of the living and the dead is briefly lowered, allowing ghosts to go out into and interact with the outside world. Patrick is able to go out to a gay bar and, for one day, escape his loveless relationship with Chad, Moira visits her ill mother and puts her out of her misery, and Tate is able to take Violet out on a date — and is confronted by the ghosts of the classmates he killed (who had been stuck at the school).
    • American Horror Story: Hotel follows up on this, by having the ghosts of famous serial killers (including John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, the Zodiac killer, Richard Ramirez, and Aileen Wuornos) use Halloween to hold a "Devil's Night" party at the Hotel Cortez, where they discuss their crimes and carry out new ones against the hotel's hapless living guests. The party is hosted by the ghost of James Patrick Marsh, the man who built the hotel in the 1920s to serve as a massive serial killer lair, filled with hidden passages to dispose of the people he killed. It's implied that the whole party may have been just John Lowe hallucinating from the absinthe he drank, but then again, maybe not.
  • Roseanne was famous for its annual Halloween episodes, and indeed was one of the very first sitcoms to do them.

    Music 
  • Helloween: "Halloween" from Keeper of the Seven Keys pt. 1.
    • And, of course, their name.
  • Michael Jackson's "Thriller" is a classic staple of the American Halloween tradition
    • So is Bobby "Boris" Pickett's "Monster Mash".
  • "Halloween" by the Dead Kennedys
  • "The Haunted House of Rock" by Whodini is a Hip-Hop celebration of classic Halloween motifs
  • "Everyday is Halloween" by Ministry
  • "Do They Know It's Hallowe'en?" by the "North American Hallowe'en Prevention Initiative" is a charity single by a cast of performers.
  • "Spooky" by the Classics IV.
    Just like a ghost, you've been a-hauntin' my dreams, so I'll propose... on Halloween.

    Video Games 
  • Costume Quest features trick-or-treating kids trying to stop monsters that are stealing candy.
  • Banjo-Kazooie features a Halloween themed world named "Mad Monster Mansion". You even get to transform into a pumpkin in this world, one of the most popular symbols of the holiday.
  • Sonic Adventure 2 features Pumpkin Hill as a playable level for Knuckles. As the name suggests, it's a cutesy-horror themed stage with landmarks such as graveyards, churches, and , of course, mountains shaped like jack-o-lanterns. One of Shadow's (few) stages, Sky Rail, also takes place in Pumpkin Hill, but in daylight; a less demonic appeal.
  • Death Smiles.
  • Hallows End is an EarthBound ROM Hack that was made for a Halloween themed EarthBound contest featured on Starmen.net. Naturally, the plot of the game takes place on Halloween, and the original Halloween Celtic Mythology is a major part of the plot. As well as candy. Lots and lots of candy.
  • Batman: Arkham Knight takes place on Halloween and features the scarecrow as the main villain.
  • The House of the Dead III takes place on October 31, 2019.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas is absolutely drenched in the holiday.
  • The Smurfs have "The Smurfs' Halloween Special", even though it was actually an ordinary Saturday morning episode set on Halloween, which turned out to be Jokey Smurf's and Gargamel's birthday. A similar-themed holiday called Spook-A-Smurf Eve was celebrated in "Monster Smurfs".
  • The Donald Duck short Trick or Treat has a witch joining forces with Donald's nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie to get even with him after he pranks them on Halloween.
  • The Bugs Bunny short Broom-Stick Bunny has the rabbit encountering Witch Hazel while trick-or-treating.
    • Daffy Duck and his nephew encounter Witch Hazel on Halloween in A-Haunting We Will Go.
  • Beetlejuice: Beetlejuice and Lydia celebrate Halloween in "Laugh of the Party." B.J. lives things up with a Neitherworld product called "Party People In a Can."
  • Punky Brewster had "Halloween Howlers." Glomer turns everyone who doesn't give him a treat into a jack o'lantern.
  • Initially, the Danger Mouse episode "The Good, The Bad And The Motionless" tells straight away it's Halloween, and that Penfold is carving up a swede.
    Colonel K: Good heavens, D.M., I didn't know he could play tennis.
    DM: Tenni—oh, no, sir. Not Bjorn Borg, not that sort of swede. It's the vegetable kind.
  • Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem takes place on Halloween and features Solomon Groundy (a zombie), Silver Banshee, and Silvercrow.

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