Halloween or Hallowe’en

Grammarist

Both Halloween and Hallowe’en are dictionary-accepted forms of the day when children dress up and knock on doors asking for candy. As an official holiday, it should always be  capitalized, even when it is used as an adjective. The apostrophe spelling is more common outside the United States.

History

Most know that Hallowe’en is a contraction of All Hallows’ Evening, but what you may not know is that the day originated with the Celtic calendar, which marked the first day of the year as November 1st. When the Catholic Church named November 1st All Saints’ Day or All Hallows, October 31st became All Hallows’ Eve, like Christmas Eve. And like Christmas, All Saints’ Day can be called Hallowmas.

Examples

For the TV host and face of David Jones, Halloween is the year’s major party night. “I didn’t know how important it was until I went to live in the US,” he says. [Sydney Morning Herald]

Of these families, the total for Halloween spending is expected to be around $11.3 billion this year – an impressive number hard to ignore for retailers in the Halloween business. [Forbes]

As a child growing up in the Forties and Fifties, we always scooped out turnips to make our Hallowe’en lanterns; when I moved south, it was swede lanterns for my own children. [The Telegraph]

Visitors to the event are being asked to dress up as there will be prizes for the best Hallowe’en costumes, while a variety of fairground rides will help to keep the little ones entertained. [Linlithgow Gazette]

This year, Halloween and Christmas décor seem to have been simulcast. (I’d call it Hallowmas but that’s taken, a.k.a. All Saints Day on Nov. 1.) [The Spectrum]

5 thoughts on “Halloween or Hallowe’en”

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    • In the Catholic Church, the Feast of All Saints (archaically Hallowmas) is celebrated on November first, and All Souls the following day. All Souls is also called ‘The Day of the Dead’ or, formally, The Solemnity of All the Faithful Departed. All Saints is a Day of Holy Obligation, meaning Catholics are required to attend Mass on either the Eve of All Saints or on the feast day itself.

      None of these involve either costumes or candy, more’s the shame, although some parishes will invite all the children to dress as their favorite saints and process. The result is usually a “bedsheet brigade” as the kids will be dressed much they will be again to be shepherds and kings in the Christmas pageant.

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  1. I went to All Hallows’ School! So we were taught everything about its’ history from pagan times’ to current. It was a ‘free dress’ day, yippee! And the boarders’ used to decorate their refectory tables in appropriate religious themes, which we ‘day scholars’ were allowed ‘in’ to see! That was ‘special’, as it was ‘our’ day. Would start with Mass, & Benediction at end of day, in Latin, of course at that time. And sports’ playing all day, whatever you wanted to participate. All the nuns’ joined in (except for Swimming!) I just headed for the pool & stayed in it as long as possible! There was no teaching done that day! We all had such wonderful times, each & every year!

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