Halloween is an annual holiday celebrated in many countries on October 31st. It is the short form of the term “All Hallows Eve” and is the starting point of a three-day observance “Allhallowtide”, a time to remember everyone who has died.
Halloween has Christian origin. The word “Halloween” was coined in 1745 and it means “Saints Evening”. The term “All Hallows Eve”, which is what Halloween is short for, is Scottish. The holiday has been present for more than a thousand years and dates back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain.
In 609 AD, the Roman Pantheon, an ancient Roman temple, was dedicated to all Christian martyrs to honor them. In the later years, the included saints were included in it as well.
The ninth-century was a time of Christian expansion and they spread to areas like Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Soon after, the church instated 2nd November as a day to remember the dead by the name of “All Souls Day”. This day was observed with conflagrations, and traditional ceremonies, which was similar to what Samhain was. As time progressed it came to be called All-Hallows Eve and eventually, Halloween, the day of celebration becoming 31st October.
Halloween spread to the US slowly because Americans were largely Protestant Christians. Eventually, after the influence of a multitude of different beliefs, Halloween became popular there.
Today Halloween is more of a secular holiday rather than a religious observance. Some things are still similar but most have changed over time.
The aspect of similarity would have to be dressing up. People dress up as scary creatures such as witches and ghosts or maybe cartoon characters. Little also go around the neighborhood requesting candy from people while “Trick or Treating”. Today, it is treated more like a children’s holiday although older people also participate.
It can be celebrated in a lot of different ways and not just those stated above. Halloween has developed its own mascot and signature colors – the pumpkin jack-o-lantern and orange and black respectively. The decorations done are of this color. People decorate their houses with cobwebs, pumpkins and ghost decorations. Furthermore, “pumpkin carvings” are also done. Using cutting tools, different shapes and designs are carved into pumpkins.
Children also pull harmless pranks as a way of enjoyment and there are traditional games as well, such as bobbing for apples.
Halloween around the World
Although restricted only to certain countries at first, the holiday is fast spreading. Even in smaller countries, we see events like Haunted Houses, random games and lots of Halloween themed foods, such as cupcakes.
In Mexico, the day is also called “Dia de la Muertos” where people build altars and bring offerings to their dead. In China, it can be celebrated for the whole month and is called “Yu Lan” (the Hungry Ghost Festival) and lots of activities take place such as parades, operas, etc.
Halloween is becoming something global. It started off as something ominous but now has become a way to connect people together in celebration. Despite its somewhat scary history, it has become a day of happiness and celebration, which is all that matters at the end of the day.