“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower” – Albert Camus.
Look outside as fall arrives, can you disagree? Together with this festival of colors comes one of kids' favorite holidays: Halloween. But what is Halloween?
Halloween began over 2000 years back in time, in ancient Ireland. The Celts celebrated the end of harvesting (gardening) with a great festival called Samhain. The barrier between our world and the world of ghosts and spirits gets very thin around now, the border between autumn and winter, according to the ancient Celts. Weird creatures with strange powers and the souls of the dead could wonder about on Earth.
The Irish people did not want to be haunted by ghosts, so they tried disguises. The night before Samhain people started wearing masks, animal skins and frightening disguises, so the ghosts mistook them to be ghosts, too. People carved turnips with scary faces, lit up the insides with embers and turned them into lanterns. That served them in two ways: to scare ghosts and to light up the way around. People put fruit and wine on their doorsteps to keep ghosts at bay.
Later, in 8th century, Christians turned Samhain into All Saints day (All Hallos day). The night before All Hallos day was known as All Hallos Eve which eventually turned into Halloween.
In medieval Britain poor people usually went from house to house and in exchange for baked cakes, which were called ‘soul cakes’, prayed for dead relatives. Guising was another custom, when young people in Scotland and Ireland collected food and money in exchange for singing and jokes. Eventually Halloween made its way to America.
Early in New England, Puritans and Protestants were very strict and reluctant to participate in any activity with such a dubious history. Irish potato famine in 1845 led to a massive influx of Irish immigrants, and during 19th century they raised the popularity of Halloween. At the beginning it was mostly about playing tricks, but later Halloween evolved into secular, community based, more kids friendly event with costumes and candy.
During 20th century Halloween became more and more popular with traditions like pumpkin carving and trick or treating. By 1920 Halloween celebration had gotten completely out of control. Once fun and family oriented, traditions now fraught with vandalism, extreme level of mischief and even some cases of needless violence. The holiday of Halloween had become scary in a far different way.
During WWll the idea of Halloween was all but abandoned anyway, due to sugar rationing, so much of the chaos, this holiday died from natural causes. But, by the end of WWll Halloween was brought back to life with a new, fresh friendly face.
This is what we see today: a weekend with celebrations for children, a family friendly evening with little gifts and maybe a scary movie. Preparing decorations with our kids at home, at school then hanging them up for everyone to see. Our wish is that you enjoyed the harvest, time with the children and some nice times on All Hallos Eve!
From our family to yours!