Everybody knows Halloween is a festivity that involves people – mostly children – disguised as ghosts, ghouls, devils, spooks that wander around the streets at night, knocking the house doors and yell “trick or treat”, asking for candies, which are placed inside pumpkin-shaped baskets. However, do you really know where the Halloween word comes from? Or do you know its history? Or its origin?
The word Halloween originally dates back to about 1745 and it is Christian in origin. The word also means “hallowed evening” or “holy evening.” Halloween began as a pagan festival in Northern Europe where the power of magic was considered to be so potent that ghosts and spirits could make contact with the physical world. It later became a celebration that, in Christian times, was celebrated in the evening before “All Saints Day”, mostly influenced by Celtic harvest festivals, and where the participants dance, drink, eat and sit together to tell horror stories. The Scottish and the Irish have made too many changes to the expression until it became the word we know today.
In fact, Halloween was brought to the United States by Scottish and Irish immigrants, where it became commercial sometime around 1900. Postcards and paper-cut decorations were produced; ghost and ghoul costumes made their appearance in the 1930s, and the custom of screaming “trick or treat” began in the 1950s. Since then, the festivity became very profitable in terms of costumes, yard decoration, pumpkins, and candy bars. However, Halloween is not an official holiday: businesses and services stay open on regular hours, and transit runs as normal, though drivers should be careful with wandering disguised people at night, especially.
As explained before, Halloween is associated with spooks, ghosts, walking skeletons, witches, wizards, zombies, etc. All of these symbols represent the contact between the spiritual and physical world, between the living and the dead. The most common objects associated to this festivity are blood, gravestones, fire, bones, skulls and, most notably, pumpkins. In fact, these pumpkins are carved with eyes, noses and mouths, and they are used as baskets to pick the candy bars, or as lanterns – the most popular is the one called the “Jack O’Lantern”, a pumpkin that has a candle inside representing the souls of the dead.
Over the years, Halloween has been spread all over the world. Many countries have embraced it, and some have made it their own. For example, in Poland, people pray out loud as they walk through the forests so that the souls of the dead might find comfort. In Spain, Christian priests toll their church bells in order to remind their congregants to remember the dead. In Canada, especially with Irish immigrants, abstinence is observed, where the people don’t eat meat at all; only pancakes or something similar. In Mexico, children make altars to invite angelitos (little angels of dead children) to come visit, the Christian Church carries out the Vigil of All Hallows or the Vigil of All Saints and, after the service, the people go to the cemetery and place candles, flowers and food, and celebrate with their dead ones. In Finland, people go and light “votive candles” – small white or yellow candles – in an act of Christian prayer.
Halloween is on October 31st. What costume are you going to wear? Are you going to church and pray for your dead loved friends or family relations? What are you going to eat? There is always something interesting to do during that festivity.
So, trick of treat!!!!
seryhumano.com / By: Luis Miguel Ramos
Fuentes: HALLOWEEN. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
HALLOWEEN IN UNITED STATES. Timeanddate.co