Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Origin and History of Halloween: How It All Began!

by David Tropeano

As strange as it may sound, Halloween did not originate in North America at all, even though North Americans have a blast on this day, with fancy dress parties, candies and scary decorations. Halloween was originally introduced by the Celts. They used to call it "Samhain". It was celebrated three days before 1st November, as well as three days after it; this period was essentially known as the dark season of the Celtic year.

The Celts were very superstitious by nature and used to believe that evil spirits leave their graves on this day and roam on the face of earth in order to inflict various kinds of diseases on the living beings!

Originally, there was no pumpkin decoration or anything of that sort. People used to carve scary faces out of turnips and potatoes and light fire inside them. On this day, even barbarians were treated like honorable guests by the Celts; they were given food, drinks etc. and allowed to enjoy the mirth with the rest of the society!

Later, when the whole of Europe converted to Christianity, Samhain was replaced by All Hallows Eve! When the Europeans discovered the New Word America and colonized it, they imported the custom of All Hallows Eve with them in America. However the present Halloween as we see it, is actually the contribution of Irish emigrants, and it has little to do with Samhain!

Here are some countries which celebrate Halloween:

1. USA: Of course, Halloween is probably one of the biggest holidays in USA. Is USA it is celebrated like nowhere else, with a lot of commercialization, fancy dress parties, scary decorations and costumes, etc.

2. Scotland and England: Scotland and England are two countries which haven't, fortunately, abandoned the tradition. In Scotland, people still follow the age old pagan customs associated with Samhain. Children are supposed to carve scary faces out of rutabagas and light candles inside them. And they don't get candies without an effort; they would receive candies only after they are able to entertain their guests properly. There is no custom of 'tricking or treating' there.

In England, people celebrate the Guy Fawkes Day on 5th November, which is not much different from the original Samhain; in fact,. many of the customs which originated with Samhain were adopted in the celebration of Guy Fawkes Day. On this day children march in an organized parade , wearing masks and with torch lights in hands!

3. Ireland: The 'tricking or treating' as we see it in North American Halloween, originated with the Irish. So it is no wonder that Irish Halloween is not much different from its North American counterpart. In Ireland, children carry huge lanterns made out of rutabagas and go around the neighborhood. The neighbors receive them with sweets and candies! During Halloween, houses in Ireland are decorated with Halloween lights!

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