Trick or treat! Are you in the mood for Hallow's End? "When the decorations of Hallow's End light up Azeroth's cities, you know there's mischief afoot!" This two-week long holiday offers atmosphere, dailies, achievements, a boss fight, fabulous loot and vanity items, and more sugar-sweet candy than you can shake a stick at! It's based heavily on the real-world Halloween, but has some interesting points from Azerothian lore.
For instance, you may be surprised to know that back in the day, before Arthas had given himself over to killing close friends and binding the dead to his indomitable will, Hallow's End was a harvest festival celebrated by the humans of Lordaeron and Stormwind. (Didn't we just have a Harvest Festival? you may ask.) This goes back to the roots of Halloween as the Gaelic harvest festival Samhain, meaning "summer's end." This autumn holiday marked not only the end of the harvest, but also the ending of the light half of the year and beginning of the dark half. Azerothian humans threw branches onto a burning Wickerman to symbolize their past troubles being burned away in preparation for a brighter future. Similarly, Samhain celebrants walked between bonfires and threw the bones of slaughtered livestock on them as a cleansing ritual.
October 31st, Hallow's End, marks the day that the undead were finally able to break away from the grip of Arthas and become the Forsaken. They now burn a Wickerman as a symbol of their freedom, smearing the ash from the effigy on their faces in their fervor. Actual wicker men were used by Celtic druids as effigies of human sacrifice. Caesar and others supposed that living men were bound inside and burned along with the wicker man, but it is debated. Interestingly, the Wickerman in-game presentation is based on Burning Man, an event for radical self-expression in Nevada. Originally a summer solstice bonfire and wooden effigy, the creator claims to have known nothing about The Wicker Man film and in fact changed the festival name to Burning Man to distance himself from it.
Celtic revelers were said to wear costumes or masks in order to either copy or appease the spirits during Samhain. In Ireland and Scotland, children wore (wear!) disguises and went from house to house begging for treats or money in exchange for entertainment in a practice known as guising. This is most closely mimicked in the quest Treats for Spoops! in which the adventurer travels to inns in their major cities and must flex, kiss, cluck, and dance for candy on behalf of a sick orphan. In previous years, players could do more trick or treating at inns to receive a Treat Bag. Rather than the trick-or-treater, the bag would choose to either perform a trick or provide a treat. Treats could be one of the many flimsy masks, a selection of candy, one of the 8 transformation wands, or the coveted Hallowed Helm or Sinister Squashling minipet. Tricks came in the form of costume buffs or 30-second debuff transformations. Now, those tricky RNG items can all be purchased from vendors, and the currency obtained from visiting an inn's candy basket.
Inns also offer the opportunity to go apple bobbing, one of the popular seasonal activities like divination or turnip-carving. Apples feature prominently in the Halloween traditions of Earth, proving themselves a versatile fruit in many romantic rituals. Cutting an apple at night and looking into a mirror, a maiden may see the face of her future spouse. Rather than cut the apple, she could place it under her pillow to dream of him instead. Or, she could cut the peel off in one long strip, throw it over her shoulder, and behold the first letter of his name in its shape! Other romantic divinations were performed with chestnuts and egg whites.
Tigule's and Foror's Strawberry Ice Cream, Moonbrook Riot Taffy, Styleen's Sour Suckerpop, Bellara's Nutterbar, and Hallow's End Pumpkin Treat can all be bought from a Hallow's End Treats vendor. Players collect local specialties of gumdrops, nougat, mint, and marzipan for an orphan. Each inn's candy bucket will set you up with a handful of G.N.E.R.D.S., Pyroblast Cinnamon Roll, Chewy Fel Taffy, or Soothing Spearmint Candy, along with the new candy currency and other vanity items.
references for the name jack o'lantern were night watchmen or will o'the wisps, but the more recent legend stars a man named Jack, who bargains with the Devil. His sins keep him out of Heaven, and either his bargains or tricks on the Devil prevent him from entering Hell. Forced to wander for eternity, he is given an ember from hell (or a vegetable lantern) to light his way.
In addition to grinning jack o'lanterns, you will see clouds of fluttering bats and black cats around town. Killing a black cat will give you Bad Luck as punishment. Black cats have a conflicted history of reverence and revulsion. Although they have been seen as granting good luck in Egypt, Great Britain, Ireland, Scotland, and Japan, rising superstitions in Europe and New England lead to them being associated with witchcraft and misfortune. They are connected with bad luck for gamblers, but good luck for sailors and fishermen. Azeroth appears to consider them good luck, since killing one punishes the killer. "