Halloween — 31st October, 2022
Halloween or also less known as Allhalloween, All Hallows’ Eve, or All Saints’ Eve is celebrated in many countries around the world on 31 October. Halloween is generally nonreligious throughout much of Europe and most of North America. In the Czech Republic, the equivalent for this holiday is All Souls’ Day celebrated on November 1. But let’s take a closer look at how this holiday is celebrated, because if you think Halloween is a uniquely American tradition, we have a trick for you!
Why is Halloween named so?
Halloween’s modern English name derives from medieval Christianity. The term “hallow” comes from the Middle English and Old English words for “saint”. It can also signify holy when used as a noun. The Christian celebration known as All Hallows’ Day was called All Hallows’ Day back then, and the day before it, when evening mass was held, was called All Hallows’ Eve. Halloween was later condensed from the three-word name. The word Halloween itself was popularized by Scottish poet Robert Burns in his poem of the same name in 1785.
To summarize, Halloween is simply an old-fashioned way of stating “the night before All Hallows’ Day,” also known as Hallowmas or All Hallows’ Day.
When is Halloween 2022?
The road to October 31, the Christian holiday known as Halloween, is a little trickier. Early in the 7th century, Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome to the saints, which is when the feast of All Saints was first observed. However, this day was May 13. When Pope Gregory III dedicated the chapel in St. Peter’s Basilica to the saints in the following century, he changed the day to November 1. Pope Gregory IV added All Saints’ Day to the Christian calendar a further century later and expanded its commemoration from Rome to churches all over the world. All Saints Day and All Hallows Eve both started being observed on October 31. This might have been an attempt to strike a balance between the religious holiday and the pagan holiday of Samhain.
History of Halloween
We’ve already mentioned the Old Celtic festival of Samhain, and it’s with this pagan holiday that we’ll begin our journey through Halloween’s history.
Halloween derives from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). This day marked the end of summer and harvest, as well as the start of the dark, cold winter, a season that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the line between the living and dead worlds blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when the ghosts of the dead were said to return to earth. Massive sacred fires were built by the Druids to mark this occasion, and crowds gathered there to sacrifice crops and animals to the Celtic gods. The Celts would dress up for the festivities and attempt to communicate with the gods while wearing costumes that typically included animal heads and skins.
By 43 AD. The majority of the Celtic lands had been conquered by the Romans. They had been in control of Celtic lands for 400 years, and they had instituted two Roman holidays: Feralia, which commemorates the passing of the dead, and Pomona Day (the Roman goddess of fruit and trees). The apple is Pomona’s symbol, so the fact that this holiday was celebrated during Samhain probably explains why we still bop for apples on Halloween.
All Saints’ Day
Christianity began to have an impact on the Celtic nations in the ninth century, where it gradually merged with and replaced the more ancient Celtic rites. The Church proclaimed November 2 as All Souls Day, a day to remember the deceased, in the year 1000 AD. It is now believed that the Church attempted to replace the Celtic Feast of the Dead with a related, Church-approved holiday. Similar to Samhain, All Souls Day was observed with large bonfires, parades, and dressing as saints, angels, and devils. The day before All Saints’ Day, which was traditionally the night of Samhain in Celtic religion, became known as All-Hallows Eve and eventually Halloween. All Saints’ Day is also known as All-hallows or All-hallowmas.
By the end of the Middle Ages, the secular and the sacred days had merged. The Reformation essentially put an end to the religious holiday among Protestants, although in Britain especially Halloween continued to be celebrated as a secular holiday. Along with other festivities, the celebration of Halloween was largely forbidden among the early American colonists, although in the 1800s there developed festivals that marked the harvest and incorporated elements of Halloween. When large numbers of immigrants, including the Irish, went to the United States beginning in the mid 19th century, they took their Halloween customs with them, and in the 20th century Halloween became one of the principal U.S. holidays, particularly among children.
How to celebrate Halloween?
Even in modern times, Halloween is still widely observed in America, but it has barely made it across the Atlantic. Since the Puritans disapproved of the holiday’s paganism, they abstained from celebrating it. The few Halloween celebrations that did occur in American colonial times included large-scale public harvest festivals, ghost story telling, singing, and dancing.
The holiday did not become an important part of American culture until the second half of the 19th century, when Irish and Scottish immigrants started to immigrate to the country in greater numbers. The majority of people in North America are thought to have celebrated Halloween by the early 20th century (with candy and costumes).
There are a number of theories about the history of trick-or-treating, but three are the most prevalent. In accordance with the first theory, the Celts used the Samhain festival to leave food outside in an effort to placate nighttime wandering spirits. People started dressing up as these otherworldly creatures over time in exchange for similar gifts of food and drink.
The second theory, which holds that kids dress up for Halloween and knock on neighbors’ doors for candy, gained popularity in the US in the early 20th century when Irish and Scottish communities revived the Old World tradition of “dressing up.” In most cases, a person would dress up in a costume and tell a joke, read a poem, or do another trick in exchange for cash or food, known as soul cakes. A third theory claims that “belsnickeling,” a German-American Christmas tradition in which children dressed up in costumes and called their neighbors to see if the adults could guess who they were, is the inspiration for modern American carol singing. Children were given food or other treats in one variation of this tradition if no one could recognize them.
Trick-or-treating for candy became one of the most common Halloween activities in the 1950s. According to the National Retail Federation, Halloween is currently one of the biggest holidays for candy sales in the US, with over $3 billion in sales predicted.
Bobbing for apples
Bobbing for apples has long been a tradition at Halloween parties, but its origins actually date back to a time when love and romance were more prevalent. The game has its roots in a Roman festival honoring Pomona, the goddess of agriculture and abundance, which included a courtship ritual. Although there were many variations, the fundamental idea was that young people could predict their future romantic relationships based on the game. Women engaged in rituals on Halloween from the 17th to the 19th centuries in an effort to find a husband. In an effort to spot the initials of their future husband, single women would throw apple peels over their shoulders. At gatherings, they also held apple-throwing competitions with the goal of having the champion be the first to tie the knot. Additionally, some women believed that their future husband’s face would appear in the mirror if they stood in a dark room with a candle in front of it. Who wants a bloody mary?
Lighting Candles and Bonfires
Towering bonfires were used to light the path for souls traveling to the afterlife for a large portion of Halloween’s early history. Nowadays, burning candles has largely taken the place of big traditional fires.
The holiday we celebrate today really started taking off in the middle of the 19th century, when a wave of Irish immigrants left their country during the potato famine. The newcomers brought their own superstitions and customs to their new homes, including the jack-o’-lantern. Carving a Jack-o’-Lantern originated in Ireland using turnips or beets instead of pumpkins. It is allegedly based on a legend about a drunkard man named Stingy Jack who repeatedly trapped the Devil in a tree by hacking a sign of the cross into the bark and only let him go on the condition that Jack would never go to Hell. After he passed away, Jack attempted to go back to his old friend the Devil after learning that even Heaven didn’t want his soul. But all he offered Jack was a burning coal chunk inside a hollowed-out beet. The dead man then started his journey, doomed to wander until he discovered his final resting place. In an effort to fend off evil spirits, the locals eventually started carving ghostly faces into their own turnips. Modern, intricately crafted pumpkin creations are undoubtedly among Halloween’s impressive decorations in many front yards and window displays.
Halloween evolved into a secular holiday in the 1920s and 1930s, but it remained community-focused and centered around parades and large-scale Halloween celebrations. Despite the best efforts of many schools and communities, some celebrations during this time started to be plagued by vandalism.
In the 1950s, city officials were successful in reducing vandalism, and Halloween started to become a popular holiday with kids. During the 1950s baby boom, which produced a large number of young children, celebrations were moved from the city’s civic centers to classrooms or private homes where they could be more conveniently accommodated. Young people’s themed Halloween parties are held on a regular basis these days.
Bonus – best movies to watch on Halloween
A new sequel to classic “Halloween” franchise —”Halloween Kills” — was released in 2021. “Halloween” is regarded as a classic horror movie, right down to its eerie score, and it served as an inspiration for other well-known slasher movies like “Scream,” “Nightmare on Elm Street,” and “Friday the 13.” More family-friendly Halloween movies include “Hocus Pocus,” ”Casper,” Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” or ”Beetlejuice”. The psychological drama “Split,” which centers on Kevin’s main character, or characters, if you will (twenty-three to be exact), as well as the mystery movie “Old,” are more recent examples.
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