What is Halloween?
October brings with it not just the smell of autumn but also the excitement of celebrating Halloween.
You might have noticed pumpkins spread out with curved faces, in front of houses in your neighboring streets, in restaurants, and in shops. But it gets even more exciting with Starbucks launching their Pumpkin Spiced Latte.
Moreover, as nighttime approaches, you find children knocking on your doors dressed as characters asking for sweets and candy. Reluctantly you would try to find some or step out on the street to see that the entire view has transformed.
Until now, you would have imagined all the festivity, but the real question is what this event is and why does it exist?
Halloween aka the All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints’ Eve
Halloween is a holiday that is celebrated every year on the last date of October. It is often known as All Hallows’ Eve, Allhalloween, or even All Saints’ Eve. On the 31st of October, it is celebrated from evening onwards. This is done to commemorate the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day, which is now known as Halloween.
On this night, children dress up in various costumes and go on ‘trick-or-treating, ‘ a custom performed solely by children of visiting houses and neighborhoods to collect candy and sweets. A ripe pumpkin in orange color is the symbol of knowing that Halloween has arrived. People host Halloween costume parties, play pranks, engage in divination games, and even guising. In short, it is one of the most popular holidays after Christmas.
Origins of Celebrating Halloween
Halloween appears to have originated from the Celtics. It is believed that the holiday is used to remember the dead in the liturgical year. The dead consisted of the saints who were also known as ‘hallows’ hence the name ‘Halloween’, the martyrs, and every other loved one who has departed this world.
The Role of Celtics
There is one theory that Halloween came from the Celtics’ harvest festivals and not just any festival. It is known to have originated from a Gaelic festival known as Samhain that has pagan roots (Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, anyone?). For those who have not watched the Netflix show and are unaware of pagans. Let’s just take them as false gods and people and those who believed in polytheism. It sounds a lot like some religious studies course, doesn’t it?
Well, it gets interesting!
So, in short, Halloween probably got first celebrated by Celts about 2000 years ago in areas that are now known as Ireland, France, and the United Kingdom. It used to get celebrated on the 1st of November, so the night before was considered the Hallows’ Eve. It is considered as the end of summer and the beginning of winters so autumn, in other words.
The barrier between the Living and the Dead
Now Celtics believed, that the night before, which is on the eve of the 31st of October, the barrier between the world of the living and the world of the dead decreases or gets blurred. This means that the dead can pass into the living world and haunt people or visit their loved ones. Hence, the activities divination games, pranking, and souling originated from trying to connect with the souls that are supposed to cross into the world of the living.
Origins of Having Bonfires and Wearing Costumes
So the story about how Halloween came to be the way it continues further. Each of the activities that you see people celebrating all around you, is derived from Celtic practices such as have bonfires and wearing costumes. About 2000 years ago, Celtic priests would commemorate this observance by having a bonfire where people gathered to throw their sacrifices of crops and animals that were believed to be offered to the Celtic divine deities. This was also taken as a celebration by donning costumes made from animal skins or animal heads.
How is Halloween Celebrated in Modern Times?
Halloween is celebrated starting from people’s own homes. So that means decorating the interior of your home with jack o lanterns (Amazon ASIN #B0759TL1X3) that are carved pumpkin faces or buying home décor. People like to decorate the outdoors with having figures of witches standing (Amazon ASIN #B095WFKR17) in the garden or porch and Halloween-themed decorations on the door (Amazon ASIN #B07TBHQL7B). People also like to add inflatable ghosts (Amazon ASIN #B08YJXD2NY) that make their house appear haunted.
Whereas families like to give their children candy baskets and buckets (Amazon ASIN #B08C9RSPJ2,) in which they can go trick-or-treating to collect candies. People also keep candy packets with various chocolates from different brands (Amazon ASIN #B0743CS9ZD). At the same time, adults and children slip into costumes typically of ghosts, witches, goblins, ghouls, or any other mythical creature. The costumes serve the purpose of telling stories of how they devised the costume based on the origins of the character they represent.
Masquerade parties are one of the main highlights of celebrating Halloween, especially for adults, including playing divination games, doing pranks, or trying to hold a séance to get in touch with a soul.
Our Final Thoughts
By now, you would have got a crash course on Halloween and its origins. Knowing about its history and how the different practices came to be a part of the Halloween celebration makes us acknowledge the actual darkness behind the celebration. It helps us to make it stand apart from other celebrations and how society views it today.
Halloween was not always about candies, costumes, and parties. It had a very dark beginning, and the purpose for which it was celebrated was far from having leisure time. It is one of the holidays that is greatly popular in media next to Christmas. With different shows taking a twist on what could happen or has happened on the Hallows’ Eve.
So as October approaches,
Here is to Happy Trick-o-Treating!