Here’s All About Halloween?
Some of the well-established Halloween customs include carving pumpkins, trick-or-treating, and dressing up as something spooky.
However, the origins of Halloween can be found in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, which is a pagan religious celebration of the harvest at the end of summer. During this occasion, people would light bonfires and dress up as ghostbusters. Pope Gregory III established November 1 as a day to celebrate saints in the ninth century.
Soon after, elements of the Samhain customs were incorporated into All Saints Day. All Hallows Eve, or Halloween as it became called, was the evening before All Saints Day. Here’s a look at some of the traditional Halloween customs that have endured over the years.
Halloween is a holiday observed on October 31 of each year. In 2023, Halloween falls on a Tuesday. The custom began with the ancient Celtic holiday of Samhain, during which people dressed up as ghostbusters and lit bonfires. Pope Gregory III declared November 1st to be a day to honour all saints in the eighth century.
Soon, some of the Samhain customs were absorbed into All Saints Day. All Hallows Eve, and subsequently Halloween, was celebrated the previous evening. With time, Halloween changed to become a day filled with festivities, trick-or-treating, jack-o’-lantern carving, costume parties, and candy consumption.
The bond between the living and the dead is a fundamental aspect of the human condition, and Halloween is one of the oldest rituals in the world. The holiday’s main theme—transformation—was originally connected to the celebration, which arose from ancient customs that marked the change from summer to winter.
Every society in recorded history has developed some kind of ceremonial observance centred around the questions of what happens to people when they die, where they go, and how the living should best honour the deceased or deal with the deceased who don’t seem to be able to move on.
Various nations commemorate Halloween in different ways, ranging from China’s Tomb Sweeping Day to Mexico’s Day of the Dead.Even while some elements of the event are relatively new and can be linked to the Celtic feast of Samhain, the current celebration of Halloween in nations like the United States and Canada, where it is most popular, is rooted in this old custom.
Day of All Saints
In recognition of all Christian martyrs, Pope Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon in Rome on May 13, A.D. 609, and the Catholic feast of All Martyrs Day was instituted in the Western church. Later, Pope Gregory III changed the date of the celebration from May 13 to November 1 and extended it to honour all saints in addition to all martyrs.
Christianity began to permeate Celtic territories by the ninth century, when it progressively replaced and merged with pre-Christian Celtic rituals. The church declared November 2 to be All Souls’ Day in A.D. 1000 as a day to remember the deceased. Nowadays, it’s generally accepted that the church was trying to establish a similar, church-approved holiday in lieu of the Celtic festival of the dead.
Similar to Samhain, All Souls’ Day was marked by large bonfires, parades and costumes representing saints, angels and devils. The night before All Saints’ Day, the original night of Samhain in the Celtic faith, started to be termed All-Hallows Eve and, later, Halloween. The festival of All Saints’ Day was also known as All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day).
How American Halloween began to be
Though it nearly didn’t make it over the Atlantic, Halloween is still a popular festival in America today. The Puritans did not celebrate the occasion because they disapproved of its pagan origins. When Halloween was celebrated in colonial America, it was a time of great public gatherings where people would dance, sing, tell ghost stories, and celebrate the impending harvest.
The holiday did not become widely recognised as a part of the national zeitgeist until the second half of the 19th century, when a growing number of Irish and Scottish immigrants arrived in the United States. It is estimated that most individuals in North America (who love candy and dress up for Halloween) observed the holiday by the early 20th century.
A uniquely American interpretation of Halloween emerged as the beliefs and traditions of various European ethnic groups and American Indians merged. The earliest harvest festivities took the form of “play parties,” which were open to the public. Neighbours would sing and dance while exchanging ghost stories and fortunes.
Were you aware? Pet costumes are becoming more and more popular. In 2021, Americans spent around $500 million on pet costumes, which is more than twice as much as they did in 2010.
Halloween celebrations in Colonial times often included ghost stories and various forms of mischief. Annual autumnal celebrations were prevalent by the mid-1800s, although not all states had adopted Halloween as a holiday.
Agrita Chhibber is from Jammu
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