Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Trick-or-Treating, pumpkin carving, costumes, candy, bobbing for apples, why do we do these things on Halloween? Where did it all come from? What are we even celebrating? Here are a few facts about Halloween. Halloween was originally a Celtic holiday called Samhain (pronounced Sah-ween). The Celts lived in and around the British Isles. It was a celebration to signify the end of summer and the harvest. They also believed it was the day on which the barrier between the world and the living was the thinnest. The Celts celebrated this time with bonfires, apple bobbing, and the carving of vegetables. They also wore costumes to try and trick the spirits into staying away from them. As different groups like the Romans and early Christians arrived in these areas they brought their own ideas and traditions moving to what we now see here in America today. Because the celebrations of Halloween in its many forms all have to do with death, spirits, ghosts, and magic the traditional images of Halloween have come to be pumpkins, witches, demons, etc.
Other parts of the world celebrate Halloween in different ways. In Mexico there is El Dia De La los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. This is the day that a sprit returns to its home, families decorate the graves of their loved ones with flowers, food, photographs and a basin of water so the spirit can wash for the feast. In Ireland where most of our Halloween traditions began people continue to dress up and go Trick-or-Treating. In Scotland Halloween has evolved into Mischief Night were pranks and tricks are played. In England they continue to light bonfires in what is on what is now called Guy Fawkes Day (you V for Vendetta fans may know him as the man who tried to blow-up parliament in 1606).
May your candy be plentiful and your evil spirits few!
For more information click on the following:
The Library of Congress American Folklife Center
Halloween: Ancient Origins