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According to one source, the celebration of Halloween probably derived from the Old Irish (Celtic/Gaelic) harvest festival of Samhain (or Samuin), which can be traced to between the 8th and 10th centuries. In Old Irish, Samhain translates to "summer's end," and the festival was held in late October to celebrate the end of the harvest season. The festival of Samhain has also been linked with the Catholic All-Saints' Day and various festivals of the dead (which celebrate townspeople who have died during the past year). The word Halloween can be traced to 16th century Old English and is based on the Scottish phrase "All-Hallows-Even," the evening before All Hallows Day (aka All-Saints Day). The first written example of All-Hallows-Even was in 1556. Dressing in Halloween costumes and going door-to-door is similar to the practice of Christmas wassailing in the Middle Ages; and trick-or-treating may have derived from souling, when Soul cakes were given as gifts on All Souls' Day. Shakespeare even refers to begging at Hallowmas in Two Gentlemen of Verona (1593).
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