All about Halloween-when and why It is celebrated
One of the most eagerly awaited holidays in the west is Halloween, particularly among Christians. In addition to dressing up in spooky attire, trick-or-treating, attending costume parties, watching scary movies, and carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns are some of the enjoyable activities that people engage in.
Halloween is a singular tradition that is enthusiastically observed by both adults and children alike and is full of excitement and horror. However, why is Halloween observed, and why only on October 31? Halloween has a long history, which most people are unaware of. It’s not merely for entertainment purposes. On that topic, we present to you this thorough article on Halloween, its history, significance, and customs.
What Does Halloween Mean?
Modern English name Halloween first appeared in Medieval Christianity. The word “hallow” derives from Middle and Old English roots that mean “holy.” It can also be used as a saint as a noun. All Hallows’ Eve, the Christian holiday we now know as All Saints’ Day, was the day before All Hallows’ Eve, when an evening mass was celebrated. The three-word terms were eventually turned into Halloween.
Why is Halloween Celebrated?
Halloween is a more than a thousand-year-old Christian religious tradition. Although it started as a tradition to honour the night before All Hallows’ Day, or All Saints’ Day, on November 1, it has since become increasingly secular. In Christianity, All Saints’ Day, Halloween, and All Souls’ Day (2 November) are all a part of the Allhallowtide season. It is devoted to remembering all the deceased, including saints and martyrs.
Samhain and other Celtic harvest celebrations have inspired some Halloween traditions as well (held on November 1). On this day, it was said, the souls of the deceased made their way back to the world of the living. To fend off the spirits, people donned costumes and built bonfires. Halloween’s association with ghosts, witches, and other bad creatures stems from this.
What Happens on Halloween?
Halloween, which is still widely celebrated in America today, almost never made it over the Atlantic. The Puritans refrained from celebrating the feast because of its pagan origins. The American colonial Halloween celebrations that did occur included large public gatherings when ghost stories, music, dancing, and singing were all performed.
The holiday did not become ingrained in the national spirit until the second half of the 19th century, when Irish and Scottish immigrants started to immigrate to America in greater numbers. The large number of (candy-loving, costume-wearing) people in North America are considered to have observed Halloween by the early 20th century.
Halloween customs are still developing today. Some people dress up their cars in frightening tailgate fashion for community trick-or-treat events, which are frequently organised in school or church parking lots. This is an alternative to trick-or-treating throughout the neighbourhood. In response to a popular campaign to shift Halloween, National Trick-or-Treat Day was established on the final Saturday in October in 2019. However, Halloween continues to be observed on October 31, and local organisers determine whether and how towns will observe the new National Trick-or-Treat Day.
Halloween is undoubtedly the world’s most enjoyable holiday. Every year on October 31, both adults and kids joyfully participate in numerous Halloween rituals. Following is a list of some of them:
- Making Pumpkin Jack-O’-Lanterns
- Donning Frightful Costumes
- Going Trick or Treat
- Candle Care and Lighting Bonfires
- “Apple bob”
- Consuming a Lot of Candy
- Visiting spooky locations
- Playing Jokes
- Watching horror films
Halloween Activities Throughout History
As the Celts practised polytheism, the early pagan feast of Samhain included a great deal of ritualistic activities to establish a connection with spirits. Although little is known about these festivities, many people think the Celts celebrated by dressing up (granted, costumes were probably as primitive as animal hides), participating in special feasts, and creating lanterns by hollowing out gourds (thus the origin of jack-o’-lanterns). The fundamental customs of the holiday have persisted in popular culture year after year, simply evolving and becoming more contemporary as Christianity has grown and the event’s pagan overtones have become less significant.
More cheerful sports and joy replaced the ancient mysterious practices. For example, the scary and serious idea of connecting to the dead was replaced with the more light-hearted idea of telling the future. For instance, “bob for apples” became a common game on All Hallows’ Eve and was used as a type of fate telling. The guy—er, apple—that the woman eventually bit into was thought to represent her future husband. Apples were chosen to stand in for all of a woman’s potential suitors. In fact, young women had a great—though somewhat superstitious—opportunity to meet men around Halloween in the 19th century.
Another popular All Hallows Eve tradition was mirror gazing, in which individuals looked into mirrors in an effort to see their future selves. There are also suggestions that gifts resembling fortune cookies were given out in earlier times. After being scribbled on sheets of paper in milk, the letters were folded and placed inside of walnut shells. After the shells were heated over a fire, giving the milk the perfect colour of brown, the messages would appear miraculously on the recipient’s paper.
Why is Halloween on the 31st of October?
The Celts, who inhabited what is now mostly northern France, the United Kingdom, and Ireland 2,000 years ago, held the view that the line separating this season’s summer and winter was hazy on the night that marked the transition. It later became a convenient time for the festival because the Celts celebrated their new year on November 1. They thought that during the night of October 31, the ghosts of the deceased returned to the world.
Why are pumpkins carved on Halloween?
Turnips were traditionally carved on Halloween because of the legend of Stingy Jack, who is said to have caught the Devil and only let him go on the condition that he would never go to hell. When Irish immigrants brought the concept to America, they began substituting pumpkins for turnips.
Halloween costumes and trick-or-treating history
A lot of people were rumoured to go door to door dressed as saints and perform hymns or poetry. As a delicacy resembling biscuits, “soul cakes,” kids would also knock on doors and ask for them. Technical note: Soul cakes were originally served on November 2 as part of the All Souls’ Day holiday (yeah, there’s a third holiday after Halloween and All Saints’ Day!), but when trick-or-treating took hold, they gradually migrated to Halloween night. In the early to mid-1900s, families would give treats to kids in the hopes that they would be resistant to any holiday pranks, which is when the candy-grabbing concept also became popular in the U.S.
The costumes also underwent evolution. The practice of dressing up in spooky attire to scare unaware neighbours may have started out as sincere honours to saints, but it is likely that it eventually lost popularity. This is when teenage Scots and Irish pranksters came up with the idea. And just like that, Halloween costumes became terrifying, eerie, amusing, and imaginative all at the same time, all thanks to these neighbourhood thugs.
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