Out of all the holidays, Halloween incites the most imaginations. Halloween also inspire people young and old, men and women from all walks of life to dress up in various kinds of costumes just to go out and collect sweet goodies around the neighborhood and to party until the wee hour. It is also the time of the year when children can take candies and other sweet goodies from strangers or people they will likely not see again until next year, an odd tradition because children at an early age were told never to take anything from people they don’t know. This peculiar tradition makes a lot of people wonder what makes Halloween different to all holidays that parents break the rule this one day out an entire year.
In order to solve the mystery, let us go back to the time when the pagan calendar was still used. The time when Celtics still celebrate the Samhain festival and people give offerings to the dead, there were animal sacrifices and bonfires to remember the dead.
What Is Halloween
Halloween is a holiday celebrated on October 31, before All Saints Day. It is a secular holiday observed yearly with peculiar traditions and customs such as wearing Halloween costume, trick-or-treating, applying spooky makeup on the face, and turning the house into a graveyard or haunted house.
What is the Meaning of Halloween?
The name Halloween is a short form of All Hallows Even, which means the day before All Saints Day or All Hallows Day, a holiday commemorating the Christian martyrs and saints that have passed away, whether officially recognized or not. By the way, the original spelling of Halloween is Hallowe’en.
Origin of Halloween
The origin of Halloween dates back to the Celtic celebration of Samhain festival. It is believe that the Celts in Ireland, France, and United Kingdom hold a feast to mark the end of the harvest season (summer) and welcome the beginning of the winter season, the cold year, which is often associated with death because of the health problems that cold season brings that sometimes lead to an early demise of human. The Samhain pronounced as sow-in also celebrated to appease the ghosts or spirits that still roamed the earth as they are more powerful that they can cause problems on the evening of October 31 or before the New Year.
Take note, Ancient Celts celebrate the New Year on November 1, and according to the legend, the line between the dead and living become blurred on the eve of October 31, making it necessary for people to make animal sacrifices and give offerings to the dead. And the force of darkness is more powerful on this night, so the Celtics or druid priest maybe able to foretell the future after performing the Samhain tradition. The prophecies can be a source of direction and comfort during the dark, long winter season.
To remember the day, the druids built bonfires wherein people gathered to burn animals and crops sacrifices to the deities. The people attending the celebration would also wear costumes to head their faces from the ghosts. When the Samhain ceremony is over, they re-lit a hearth fires that they extinguished earlier to protect them from the coming winter.
It is believed that on the night of October 31st, hours before the New Year arrive (November 1) the walls that divide the spirit and the physical world is blurred, which is why the hobgoblins, demons, witches and elves can roamed the earth and join the living. In order to protect the living from the dead, the druids wore costumes that make them look like from the other side of the world. They also believed that wearing and performing demonic activities can ward of the bad spirits that harass humans and destroy crops.
When the roman church decided to convert the Celts to Christianity, they adopted some pagan tradition including the Halloween costumes to entice the non-believer to convert. Now, when immigrants from Northern Europe settled in America, they did not just bring the Halloween festival but also the traditions that have a root that dates to the ancient Celtic days.
Halloween Jack O Lantern
Jack-o-lantern is a lamp made out of carved pumpkin. The tradition of carving a pumpkin during Halloween originated in Ireland. According to the old Irish legend, a shrewd, lazy, and stingy man named Jack trick a devil who was about to take his soul by trapping him to a wallet. The devil was let go after he agreed never to take Jack soul again. So, Jack the thief lived, but all people die eventually and when jack comes he traveled to heaven but was turned away at the gate because of his many trickery and sinful life.
So, Jack went to hell but was also refused because of the devil promise not to take his soul. Now, Jack had nowhere to go, and the devil mock him further by throwing an ember that never burn out to light his path. To carry ember, he made a lamp out of his favorite food, a turnip. He placed the ember inside a carved turnip and began wandering the earth endlessly to find a resting place. Jack also known as “Jack-o-lantern” became part of the Halloween tradition.
Jack-o-lantern became a Halloween tradition because of the ancient Celtics belief that spirits or ghosts are active during Samhain. In order to keep the spirits away, the people carved a lamp made out of turnips, beets, or mangelwurse, just like what Jack did. The Carved lamp was used as light while outside on the eve of Samhain festival.
Irish and Scottish immigrants brought the Jack-o-lantern tradition to America, but since there are not enough turnips, they used pumpkins instead.
Why Do We Celebrate Halloween
Halloween is celebrated to honor the dead since it is a prelude to All Saints Day. People celebrate Halloween not just because it signifies the coming of All Saints Day, the Catholic Church holiday honoring all canonized saints that have passed. But also because it is a great time for both adults and children to have fun. The Halloween traditions of wearing costumes allow people to pretend and be someone they are not for a day while kids get to play trick-o-treating and indulge in their favorite candy bars.
Today, during Halloween many people across the world still practice the Halloween traditions such as wearing Halloween costumes, trick-o-treating, carving pumpkins and other crazy traditions. By the way, Halloween is the second most popular holiday in America, despite the fact that it is not a federal holiday.
Furthermore, during Halloween, the gross sales of candy manufacturer and costume maker triple, this is why Halloween also holds the record as the second most successful holiday in terms of revenue.
But of course, Halloween is not just an American holiday because across the world, people also celebrate Halloween but not as lavish as the Americans or British do. This is because, there are other parts of the world that Halloween is not popular. For example, in Brazil, the celebration is limited only to a few schools.
Anyway, wherever you are in the world, I hope this article has helped you understand Halloween, and the reasons why it is celebrated annually. Take note, Halloween is more than just about trick-o-treating, bobbing apples and Halloween costumes since it is also the time to remember the people who have made a difference in our lives.