••• The International Writers Magazine:Halloween
Halloween or the Eve of All Saints: History and Traditions
Have you ever wondered what Halloween is, how this holiday has appeared, what exactly do we celebrate on this day and what is an origin of Halloween rituals and traditions? Why adults and children dress up as monsters and frighten each other? If you cannot answer these questions yet, then this article will get the bottom of the Hallows eve history for you.
The roots of this spooky holiday date back to the pre-Christian era, when England, Ireland and Northern France were populated by Celtic tribes. This nation had their own division of the year; there were only two seasons: winter and summer, thus the 31st of October was considered to be the last day of the year. This was also the last day of summer and harvest season, and from that very day winter began. The New Year celebration took place on the 1st of November, and, according to Celtic beliefs, this was a day, when the doors of both living and dead worlds were opened, and inhabitants of the spirit world could step into the earth easily. They called this night Samhain. But there’s more! In order not to become a victim of those spirits and ghosts, ancient Celts used to putting out all the fire at home as well as putting on animal skins to protect themselves from unexpected guests. Along with this, they placed a treat for the spirits near their houses on Hallows day and gathered around a big bonfire made by druids and priests to sacrifice animals and, after this ritual, they took a holy fire to their houses. The symbol of the eve of Saints, as now, was a pumpkin, and it was not only a sign of the end of the harvest season and summer, but it also served as a means for frightening evil spirits by a holy fire that was lit up inside a vegetable.
This tradition was very popular until the first century AD, when, after Roman invasion, Celts, who were living on the British and Irish islands were forced to abandon Paganism and all the traditions associated with it and convert themselves to Christianity. Nevertheless, people remembered Samhain together with all the Halloween traditions, and started transferring them from generation to generation. In the 9th century, in line with the order of Pope Gregory III, the celebration of All Saints Day was postponed to the 1st of November; by this action the Christian Church wanted to eradicate the Paganism and its traditions fully, but the opposing thing had happened; Samhain celebration appeared again. In Old English the pre-holiday night sounded like All Hallows Eve, thus the short modern version Halloween derived from this name.
||Today the celebration of Halloween USA is almost identical to the first Halloween, which took place many years ago. It is still celebrated in consonance with the old Samhain traditions; this night people wear different scary costumes and create theme parties. The symbol also remains the same – a spooky head-like carved pumpkin with a burning candle inside, though now it serves as a decoration, not to frighten spirits. Children like this holiday very much because this day they walk together and knock at each house shouting “Trick or treats”, and if you want to protect yourself from these small demons, you have to pay them with candies or other sweets, otherwise this gang of zombies and witches can play tricks on you.
Halloween is one of the oldest holidays in the world, its history goes back thousands of years; various cultures, traditions and rituals are intertwined in a bizarre way in this holiday. All Halloween stories are really fascinating and can make everyone be all ears. Today Halloween reflects only the echoes of the ancient Paganism, this is why some people consider it to be a merry masquerade rather than a reflection of Samhain as it was. Nevertheless, this holiday becomes more and more popular all over the world; grandiose parties are organized, full of different contests like “the best scary costume” or “the most terrible makeup” where people enjoy the creepy atmosphere and act as children forgetting for a while about the real-life problems they have in adult life.
© Alyssa Johnson 16.10.17
Alyssa Johnson is a professional blogger, traveler and writer in https://eduzaurus.com/. She also takes an active part in the organization of developing events for children.