History of Halloween
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History of Halloween
The festival of Halloween stirs vivid images in the mind, right from mask wearing people, festivities and celebrations, to ghostly figures, monsters devils, pumpkins and great feasts. It is a festival with about 2000 years of history. The history of Halloween has many different sources based upon age-old traditions followed in different countries, especially the United States, Australia, Puerto Rico, Ireland, Scotland, Britain and Canada.
In UK, the festival of Halloween is also known as the mischief night. As a common practice, people would lock up their cats and leave the doors off hinges. The myth that surrounds locking cats goes back to the belief that elves ride on back of cats. As part of Halloween customs, traditionally children used to carve pumpkin-men from large-sized pumpkins and placed them on windows to scare-off evil spirits.
In Northern America, especially in the US, Anoka in Minnesota and Salem in Massachusetts are known as major Halloween celebration cities, also called ‘Halloween capital of the world’. In the US, there is a popular tradition followed known as ‘trick or treat’. The idea rooted in old tradition comes from the belief that if you are not kind to your ancestors, they may play tricks with you. The trick-or-treaters are generally youngsters who are welcomed with lighted pumpkins called ‘jack-o’ -lanterns placed in the windows. The treat involves candies and goodies that are distributed amongst children.
In Ireland, there used to be a tradition of lighting bonfires. Goodies in the form of apples, fruits and nuts were distributed amongst children and the day marked pranks being played on other community members and friends. The popular Halloween line children recited on the Halloween day in Scotland is ‘’Sky is blue, the grass is green, may we have out Halloween?’. Goodies like sweets, dried nuts and fruits along with six-pence were normally offered to children.
Halloween Costumes, Food & Games
Traditionally, the popular costumes on Halloween include vampires, witches, ghosts and even devils. The belief for wearing this costume has its roots on spirits passing on the night. The costumes were a way to distract and fool the spirits to make them believe that they were one of them. This tradition has now evolved into Halloween costume parties where people celebrate with music, bonfire and harmless pranks. Halloween games traditionally played include bobbing for apples. It’s an interesting game in which apples are left afloat in a tub or a basin. Players are asked to hold an apple and take it out using teeth.
A popular Irish game played historically involves a player who is blindfolded. He is seated in front of a table with many different saucers containing different items like mud, beans, coin and water. These saucers are shuffled and the player is asked to choose a saucer by touching one. These different elements represent aspects related to life.
Baking barmbrack is also a very popular Irish custom. Barmbrack is a fruitcake that is bakes by arranging a plain ring in the dough. The myth that goes with the ring is that the person who finds the ring in his plate is the one who will find true love within a year.
Halloween is a time full of activities, socializing, customs and excitement. Historically, it also meant welcoming New Year and honoring dead ancestors. The spirit of festivity and its mysterious fervor has its roots in the history of Halloween festival, which has Celtic roots, allowing the dead spirits to pass away to another world.
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