Halloween is a lot of things for adults and children alike. Carved and lit up pumpkins, scary costumes and the joy of trick or treating simply is the epitome of happiness and excitement for any child. For adults, it is simply a day they can loosen their hair and think like a child again, working with their kids to decorate the lawn and the home and pick costumes for everyone.
The History Of Halloween
On the 31st of every October people all around the world get ready to enjoy one of the most famous festivals of all times. Around 2000 years ago, this was a pre-Christian Celtic festival held on November 1, better known as Samhain. It literally translates to the end of summer and hence was a harvest festival.
It used to be the time of the year when people of the community would gather to gather resources for the harsh winter months and bring animals from the pastures. Another legend that follows Samhain is the belief where it was a day where the dead cross over into this realm to visit their loved ones. Such moments have been celebrated throughout history to commemorate the importance of spirits.
This is another reason traditional Halloween costumes involve people or characters that have given into death. It is a safe way to play with the concept of death along with fake blood, gravestones and many more. Today’s concept of Halloween simply revolves around fun. You can even go dress up as a living person or visit a psychic to get into the mood.
Activities of Halloween: Trick or treat
For any child, this must be the favorite ritual that revolves around Halloween. Children of the neighborhood go around in a group sometimes accompanied by chaperones from house to house fully dressed in their costumes. Trick or treating is a ritual where they accept a treat from the house owner and avoid pranking them. Adults of every home store candy to give to the kids and the children return home with their haul of candy for the week.
This originates from the practice of mumming and guessing where people would travel under disguise from door to door asking for food. During the early days, costumes of disguise were woven out of straws and other materials. It is also related to souling practiced in Britain and Ireland.
Dressing up for Halloween
A good half of October is spent by people rummaging through every store there is, to assemble the perfect costume for their Halloween. You can be creative and create your own original costume or simply improvise on a store bought one. It dates to the Celtic legends as well, where people disguised themselves as dead men to hide from the evil dead.
Another integral activity for Halloween is the carving of pumpkins into scary faces and placing a candle or light inside them. This illumination will ignite almost every home and is simply a beautiful sight to behold. The term Jack-o-lantern originates from one of the greatest stories that revolve around Halloween. Stingy Jack was a hero of an Irish folklore where the mythical legend would hunt and imprison the devil repeatedly.
He would only release this devil when the Satan would swear to never take Jack to hell. After his death, Satan held true to the deal. However, god refused entry into heaven and sent him out. He was hence doomed to straddle hell and heaven forever. He roamed the world with the help of burning coal which was a gift from the devil to help him see his way. This is the legend behind lighting a carved pumpkin on every Halloween.
Bobbing for Apples
This is a very entertaining Halloween game played by kids. A tub of water is filled to the brim and filled with apples. As apples are less dense as compared to water, they float and bob on the surface. The children playing the game hold their hands behind and try to bite an apple using just their teeth and fetch it from the tub.
This link of apples and Halloween is due to the fact that it is an autumn tradition where apples are a common fall commodity in the market and are hence widely available. This tradition is followed to honor the Roman goddess Pomona, the goddess of abundance. In an ancient tradition followed in Rome, men and women would gather in circles and take bites out of apples. If the apple had a slip of paper inside it with a name inscribed on it, the person was meant to be their mate for life.