万圣夜英文称之“Halloween”，为“All Hallow Eve”的缩写，是指万圣节（All Hallow’s Day）的前夜，类似于圣诞夜被称为“Christmas Eve”。“Hallow”来源于中古英语halwen，与holy词源很接近，在苏格兰和加拿大的某些区域，万圣节仍然被称为“All Hallow Mas”，意思是在纪念所有的圣人（Hallow）那一天，要举行的弥撒仪式（Mass）。
在西方国家，每年的10月31日，有个“Halloween”，辞典解释为“The eve of All Saints’Day”，中文译作：“万圣节之夜”。万圣节是西方国家的传统节日。这一夜是一年中最“闹鬼”的一夜，所以也叫“鬼节”。
很多民族都在万圣节前夜有庆典聚会，这又被叫做“All Hallow E’en”、“The Eve of All Hallows”、“Hallow e’en”，或者“The eve of All Saintas’Day”。最终约定俗成演变成了“Halloween”，中文意译成了万圣节之夜。
Halloween is an autumn holiday that Americans celebrate every year. It means "holy evening," and it comes every October 31, the evening before All Saints’ Day. However, it is not really a church holiday, it is a holiday for children mainly.
Every autumn, when the vegetables are ready to eat, children pick large orange pumpkins. Then they cut faces in the pumpkins and put a burning candle inside. It looks as if there were a person looking out of the pumpkin! These lights are called jack-o’-lanterns, which means "Jack of the lantern".
The children also put on strange masks and frightening costumes every Halloween. Some children paint their faces to look like monsters. Then they carry boxes or bags from house to house. Every time they come to a new house, they say,"Trick or treat! Money or eat!" The grown-ups put treat-money or candy in their bags.
Not only children, but most grown-ups also love Halloween and Halloween parties because on this day,they can disguise themselves as personages or ghost as their imaginations will lead them. This bring them the satisfaction of being young.
Halloween is an observance celebrated on the night of October 31, most notably by children dressing in costumes and going door-to-door collecting candy. It is celebrated in much of the Western world, though most common in the United States, Puerto Rico, Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom, Canada, and with increasing popularity in Australia and New Zealand. Halloween originated in Ireland as the pagan Celtic harvest festival, Samhain. Irish, Scots and other immigrants brought older versions of the tradition to North America in the 19th century. Most other Western countries have embraced Halloween as a part of American pop culture in the late 20th century。
The term Halloween, and its older spelling Hallowe’en, is shortened from All-hallow-even, as it is the evening before "All Hallows Day" (also known as "All Saints’ Day"). In Ireland, the name was All Hallows Eve and this name is still used by some older people. Halloween was also sometimes called All Saints’ Eve. The holiday was a day of religious festivities in various northern European pagan traditions, until it was appropriated by Christian missionaries and given a Christian interpretation. In Mexico November 1st and 2nd are celebrated as the "Dia de Los Muertos" Day of the Dead. Halloween is also called Pooky Night in some parts of Ireland, presumably named after the púca, a mischievous spirit. In Australia it is sometimes referred to as "mischief night", by locals。
Halloween is sometimes associated with the occult. Many European cultural traditions hold that Halloween is one of the liminal times of the year when the spiritual world can make contact with the physical world and when magic is most potent (e.g. Catalan mythology about witches)。
Halloween is an annual celebration, but just what is it actually a celebration of? And how did this peculiar custom originate? Is it, as some claim, a kind of demon worship? Or is it just a harmless vestige of some ancient pagan ritual?
The word itself, "Halloween," actually has its origins in the Catholic Church. It comes from a contracted corruption of All Hallows Eve. November 1, "All Hollows Day" (or "All Saints Day")， is a Catholic day of observance in honor of saints. But, in the 5th century BC, in Celtic Ireland, summer officially ended on October 31. The holiday was called Samhain (sow-en)， the Celtic New year。
One story says that, on that day, the disembodied spirits of all those who had died throughout the preceding year would come back in search of living bodies to possess for the next year. It was believed to be their only hope for the afterlife. The Celts believed all laws of space and time were suspended during this time, allowing the spirit world to intermingle with the living。
Naturally, the still-living did not want to be possessed. So on the night of October 31, villagers would extinguish the fires in their homes, to make them cold and undesirable. They would then dress up in all manner of ghoulish costumes and noisily paraded around the neighborhood, being as destructive as possible in order to frighten away spirits looking for bodies to possess。
Probably a better explanation of why the Celts extinguished their fires was not to discourage spirit possession, but so that all the Celtic tribes could relight their fires from a common source, the Druidic fire that was kept burning in the Middle of Ireland, at Usinach。
Some accounts tell of how the Celts would burn someone at the stake who was thought to have already been possessed, as sort of a lesson to the spirits. Other accounts of Celtic history debunk these stories as myth。
The Romans adopted the Celtic practices as their own. But in the first century AD, Samhain was assimilated into celebrations of some of the other Roman traditions that took place in October, such as their day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple, which might explain the origin of our modern tradition of bobbing for apples on Halloween。