Every year on the same day, the 31st October, creepy creatures and spooky creatures appear on the streets and chant ‘trick or treats’. It’s Halloween!
Originally, it was the Celtic New Year’s day, ‘Samhain’ that was celebrated since five hundred AD. People thought it was the time when the souls of the dead returned to take over some of the human bodies as it was their only choice to reach eternal life. They celebrated with bonfires and costumes to scare away the monsters and demons. Later the Romans started to cover the Celtic traditions with their own. The name of this special day comes from ‘All Hollows Evening’ the night before ‘All Hallows Day’ or ‘All Saints day’ which was celebrated since five hundred AD and is a Catholic tradition. Ireland has been one of the first Christian countries in Europe and brought the tradition to the USA around the 40’s and it was brought back to other European countries around the 90’s.
The pumpkin carving tradition comes from an Irish myth telling that a man called Jack Oldfield was frightened of the devil who he tricked one night by carving a cross in a tree so the devil wasn’t able to get down. He made a deal of only letting the devil down if he would never have to be afraid of the devil. However, after Jack died he was not allowed to go to heaven because of this deal and not welcome in hell as the devil was still upset. In order to walk through the darkness, he got a turnip that was lit with help of black coal. As the Irish came to the USA they recognised that there were way more pumpkins than turnips to they changed the tradition. The faces have been carved into the pumpkins to scare demons and were placed and lit with candles inside, placed in front of houses.
Another tradition of this day is children dressing mainly in characters such as vampires, ghosts, skeletons, witches, fairies, bats, zombies or something similar and knocking at doors, begging for treats. If they won’t get anything they would trick the people. This comes from ‘All Soul’s Day’, a Christian tradition to honour the dead, originated in the 9th century where poor inhabitants walked around villages asking wealthier inhabitants for pastries called ‘soul cakes’. In exchange, they promised to pray for the souls of their dead relatives.
With many different traditions combined in one tradition, Halloween is definitely a special time of the year.
I wish you all a happy Halloween and hope it was a spooky night!