Halloween is celebrated on October 31st each year. It is a tradition which originated from Samhain. This was an ancient Celtic festival celebrated from October 31st to November 1st to welcome in the harvest and ring in the dark half of the year, winter. The Celts believed the barrier between the spirit world and physical world would break down during this time and demons would be able to enter the physical world. It was also believed that ancestors could pay a visit as well. Because of this the Celts would dress as animals and monsters so the fairies would not abduct them. In the 8th century Pope Gregory III proclaimed November 1st as a day to honor all saints. Now referred to as All Saints Day. The night before was known as Hallows Eve, now known as Halloween.
Todays Halloween activities are immersed in ancient tradition. Costumes are worn as the Celts did , the Druids built huge sacred bonfires and we also celebrate with bonfires. Naturally our costumes are much more elaborate compared to ancient times and Halloween has become another multi million dollar retail event. You can accessorize your costume with hair, hats, masks and weapons. Makeup and even fake blood are available to add that realistic touch.
The pumpkin symbolizes harvests and crops, The origin of the carved pumpkin comes from an Irish myth. It is told that Stingy Jack tricked the devil for monetary gain and when Jack died God refused to let him enter Heaven and the Devil refused his entrance to Hell. As it turned out Jack was left to roam the earth for eternity. The Irish began to carve scary, demonic faces into turnips with hopes of scaring away Jack’s soul. Irish immigrants in America started to carve faces into pumpkins as they were the most plentiful. This coined the term Jack O Lantern.
The Halloween tradition of confronting the dead led to the night of fright and numerous ghost and horror stories. The scarier the stories were the better to tell on Halloween. These stories encouraged costumes that were downright wicked. Ghosts, goblins, monsters and witches are a common site in Halloween trick or treating.
It is believed that trick or treating came from guising or mumming a custom recognized in England, Scotland and Ireland. This custom involved dressing in a costume and singing, dancing, doing tricks or telling a story in exchange for a treat.
Halloween is not necessarily good or evil. As with all things it all depends on your perception. Certainly many aspects of Halloween are meant to invoke fear, however in ancient times that was meant to ward away evil spirits. Today we see it as a night of fun and festivities. Children and adults look forward to an evening where they can dress in costume, wear absurd makeup, tell scary stories and collect treats. It is a night of fun and festivities. The carving of the pumpkin is sometimes a family event and different members of the family carve different facial features, mom does an eye, dad does the teeth and so on. Pumpkin guts are used for pie and the seeds are salted and toasted for an after school snack. Crafty people spend much time designing and putting together their own costumes. Costume parties and contests are held in virtually all communities. Bonfires are lit and haunted houses are set up in basements, offices, halls and schools all designed to add some fright to your night.