What you need to know about October 31st!

When ghosts, witches and vampires stand at the front door with expectant looks and shout “Trick or Treat” and ask the residents to give them candy because otherwise they will play tricks on them, then it is finally Halloween again. But what is the origin of this special custom on October 31st? You can find out all the information about Halloween 2023 and what is really behind the spooky tradition here.

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Halloween: origin and history

Halloween has its origins in Ireland. In pre-Christian times, the Celts celebrated a very important festival on October 31st, Samhain. This was to celebrate and honor the harvest, the start of a new calendar year, and the beginning of the cold season. The current horror factor of Halloween is not a coincidence: the Celts were already convinced that the dead would make contact with the living from the evening of October 31st to November 1st.

According to Celtic mythology, on Samhain on October 31st, the dead would haunt the living who were to die in the following year. To scare away the evil spirits, the Celts would dress up in frightening costumes and go about the night. The Celts also lit large fires and placed small offerings in front of their houses to appease the dead.

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Halloween traditions in Germany

In Germany, various traditions and customs have been established for Halloween. Every year on October 31st, children and adults dress up in scary costumes and go from house to house with an important mission in mind: “trick or treat”. Anyone who has sweets in the house on this evening will definitely make themselves popular with the neighborhood children. Anyone who doesn’t give the ghosts, witches, etc. sweets has to fear a prank.


Pumpkin carving is also very popular at Halloween. The pumpkins are hollowed out and given faces. A candle is then placed in the hollow pumpkin to illuminate the evil grimace.

Tip: The pumpkins you need are not only available at the supermarket around the corner, but also on numerous farms. More and more farmers are now offering carving courses for children. A great day trip destination is the Gertrudenhof in Hürth near Cologne: pumpkin fans will get their money’s worth here.

Halloween in the amusement park


In addition to Halloween parties, theme parks in particular have a lot to offer adults on October 31st. Things get pretty scary at Movie Park and Europa Park, for example.

The Movie Park in Bottrop is considered a pioneer of elaborately staged Halloween events. Over the last few years, Halloween has become a major flagship event there – the organizers know how to go one step further every year and now transform large parts of the park into a gigantic horror world. So it’s no wonder that the Halloween event in the Movie Park sells out early every year. If you’re interested, it’s better to reserve tickets sooner rather than later – this usually applies to the other parks too.

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Is Halloween a public holiday?

Halloween is not a public holiday. This applies to all federal states.

But this year not only Halloween falls, but also the Reformation Day to Tuesday, October 31, 2023 – and this day is a public holiday in some (!) federal states:

  • Bremen
  • Brandenburg
  • Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania
  • Lower Saxony
  • Saxony
  • Saxony-Anhalt
  • Schleswig-Holstein
  • Thuringia

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“Trick or Treat”: What’s behind “trick or treat”

When the children excitedly scream “Trick or Treat!” on the doorstep of your home, as an adult you often ask yourself: “Where does this nonsense come from?”

Here too, the sources are unclear, but one assumption is very likely: During the first processions in England on All Souls Day on November 2nd, children and those in need begged for so-called “soul cakes”, small round cakes that were baked to honor the dead. Every “soul cake” consumed is said to release a soul from purgatory. In northern regions of Great Britain, the “soul cake” is also known as “harcake”.

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In the Middle Ages, the custom was specifically promoted by the church. The background: Pagan customs that involved leaving gifts for the spirits on people’s doorsteps were to be eliminated as quickly as possible. The “Soul Cake” was more popular – and over the centuries may have developed into today’s “Trick or Treat”.

Helloween, Day of the Dead, All Saints Day and All Souls Day

Helloween on October 31st is the starting point for several days dedicated to remembering the dead. Also well known in this country is the “Day of the Dead”, Spanish Día de los Muertos, which is one of the most important Mexican holidays – and has also become known in Germany through various media. The Day of the Dead is also celebrated on October 31st.

All Saints Day then follows on November 1st: The Christian festival originally commemorates the saints, the exact opposite of those who are the focus of Halloween and the “Day of the Dead”. Because these dead have already found their way to “completion” in death.

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All Souls’ Day on November 2nd is about the poor souls who are still languishing in purgatory: Catholics use so-called “soul lights” and place them on the graves of the deceased to show them the way to the afterlife. Abbot Odilo of Cluny is considered the originator of the custom, which was started in one of his monasteries around 1000 AD.

Whether it’s Halloween, Day of the Dead, All Saints Day or All Souls Day: all three festivals have one thing in common: they commemorate the dead. Or more precisely: the dead and the souls in purgatory who, according to the church, have not yet achieved full communion with God. Nowadays, both All Saints Day and All Souls Day have merged into a “double festival” for the Catholic church. In the Protestant church, however, the dead are honored on “Remembrance Sunday” at the end of November.

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Horror movies for Halloween


To start the dark season, horror films are already in high demand in cinemas and on streaming services from the beginning of October. Most of the horror films and scary series of the year start at this time.

Cult director John Carpenter, who released his horror film “Halloween” in 1978, is probably partly responsible for the enthusiasm for horror films for the Halloween festival. The story of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and the evil psycho killer Michael Myers (Nick Castle) introduced many clichés and motifs of later “slasher” films such as “Scream” – and recently culminated in a new trilogy. In total, there were an impressive 13 Halloween films by the end of 2022.

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Halloween party queen Heidi Klum and her costumes


The most famous party and costume queen for Halloween is model mom Heidi Klum. Every year she throws a huge party on October 31st and surprises everyone with extravagant outfits and elaborate make-up looks. The GNTM juror sits in the make-up for hours for the ultimate transformation.

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