Halloween is popular as a celebration observed on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Saints’ Day. The ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain, held on November 1 in contemporary calendars, influenced Halloween. On that day, the souls of the dead returned to their homes. The historical evidence reveals that people dressed in costumes and lit bonfires to ward off spirits. Originally a Celtic festival, Halloween, referred to as Samhain, witnessed celebration initially in Ireland and Scotland for centuries. Then, it started marking the end of summer and the beginning of winter. That was the time when the Celts would build bonfires to mark the change of seasons.
The origin and the celebration today
The tradition combined with the Roman festivals of Pomona and Feralia. Later, Irish and British migrants moved across the Atlantic and popularised Halloween in the US. Halloween is considered the scariest day of the year and is a secular celebration rather than a religious one. This festival is observed in Europe and the United States (US) on 31 October, marking the difference between summer and winter. Halloween, an ancient Celtic festival celebrated on the last day of harvest in European countries and the US, has become a popular celebration.
People party at night, and ghosts, spirits, and dark academia are major themes for the celebrations. People use carved pumpkins, scary costumes, lanterns, and trick-or-treating to celebrate the day. Halloween celebrations feel amazing when people go to parties and get-togethers with friends and family. Maybe you have grown up with celebrating Halloween every year and enjoy the fun and candy.
Halloween – An old practice
Halloween is an old practice, and it has a combined influence of cultures and religious settings with added elements. ‘Halloween’ is linked to the Christian festival of ‘All Hallows’ or ‘All Saints,’ celebrated on the 1st of November. Traditionally, Halloween is a day on which the church remembers the lives of the saints and martyrs that today reside in heaven.
Praying for souls is an essential aspect of this celebration. It is believed that many ideas and practices were added from pagan (pre-Christian) traditions. Besides, it has added non-Biblical ideas that entered the church, including praying for souls believed to be not yet in heaven or preparing offerings for the dead. Also, there is a popular belief that the spirits of the dead roam the earth until All Saints Day. On Halloween, the spirits of the dead take their last chance to have revenge on people they disliked. People dress up so the spirits do not recognize them. The pagan tradition surrounding the belief is that people would play games to find out about their futures.
Entertainment as an element of the celebration
Entertainment industry has now added decorations and customs that are really gruesome. Besides, there is an influence of the horror stories and movies that have become part of the celebration turned into a festival. The remarkable part of the festival is that things that normally are frightening and disgusting are made fun of. Every country adds its traditions. However, there is something in common. That is- it is a time when people think about death and spiritual things.
Significance of Halloween today
It has been more than 2,000 years since the Halloween celebration first started. Halloween is observed in Western nations as a day to memorialize saints, martyrs, and devoted believers who have passed away. Today, the day includes celebration along with praising the saints and offering prayers for those who have not yet attained heaven. Later, there were included ideas of trick-or-treating, spooky decorations, and special candy. Halloween is a patchwork holiday that involves pumpkins, pranks, and communication with the dead. Besides, today, there is also the involvement of religious and occult traditions.
The festival originates from the time of the Celts, who were then a powerful collection of tribes with origins in central Europe. The culture spread across the continent more than 2000 years ago, and back then, in the ancient ages, the Celts used to celebrate the end of the harvest season with a festival referred to as Soin on October 31. Also, back then, Halloween marked the Celtic New Year and was considered a time between years, a magical time when the ghosts of the dead walked the earth.
On Soin, which now has a deep influence on Halloween, observed the villagers gathering and lit bonfires to drive the dead back to the spirit world. Also, the objective was to keep them away from the living. The Catholic Church”s influence grew in Europe, and then they started frowning on the pagan rituals like Soin. Later in the 7th century, the Vatican merged it with a church-sanctioned holiday. November 1 ”All Saints Day” honors martyrs, and previously, the name of Saints Day was Hallowmas- Hallow means holy or saintly, roughly translated to ”mass of the saints”.
The night before October 31, All Hallows Eve, gradually morphed into Halloween. The ancient age marked that the Celts believed that the night of the 31st marked the thinning of the boundary between the living and spirit world. The holiday culture got popularised in America with the wave of Irish immigrants during the potato famine of the 1840s who brought along several of their holiday customs, including bobbing for apples and playing tricks on neighbors, including removing dates from the front of houses.
The concept of spooky dresses
The details regarding the festival from over the ages reveal that to avoid being recognized by evil spirits on All Hallows Eve, the Celts used to wear spooky masks when they left their home at night. The intention behind the same is to keep the ghosts from mistaking them for fellow spirits. However, Trick and treating originated in the second half of the 1930s. In addition, it is known today that the Americans started following a part of the Irish and English traditions to go door to door, asking for food or money while being dressed in costumes.
In the modern world, Popular Halloween activities include trick-or-treating, carving pumpkins or turnips into jack-o’-lanterns, attending Halloween costume parties, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, playing pranks, visiting haunted attractions, divination games, telling scary stories, and so on. Halloween, derived from ancient festivals and religious rituals, is celebrated today in a number of countries around the globe in a very joyous way.