Why do we celebrate Halloween? If you asked twenty people you would get many different replies. The traditions of Halloween come from all corners of the earth. And as we travel this world our superstitions and beliefs go with us. For children there is no greater fun than dressing up and being someone (or something) else. And then to scare someone is even more fun. I believe these traditions have always been about fun and it is a wonderful excuse to forget our routine day to day lives. The American Halloween has evolved. And will continue to evolve long after you and I good reader are part of the spirit world.
The world is full of beliefs about the dead returning to life. These beliefs migrated to America and merged as one Halloween. Years later an evolved Halloween travels to rest of the world. I believe it is accepted so easily because each nationality can see part of themselves in it. No one country owns it – it is a world event.
When you attend a Halloween event just watch the people. Kids are out of their shells and are very quick to try and scare anyone. The more conservative adults dress up in the most ridiculous outfits and pretend they are normal. But for most of us it is a time to have some fun. But the history is a bit sinister.
Druids sacrificed animals on a fire and divined the future by examining the entrails of animals. And not just animals – criminals were apparently sacrificed as well. In the middle ages it wasn’t a good time for cats – they were burned in wicker cages on November 1 fires.
Medieval Halloween in England comprised of a lone bell ringer walking through the village to warn that ghosts were coming. Townsfolk would listen for the devil playing music with the bones of dead men.
Many of the origins can be traced back to the Pagans. They celebrated a night when the dead returned and some believe the Catholic Church tried to transform this into “All Saints and All Souls Day”.
“Trick or Treat” evolved from Soul Cakes – little pastries offered in exchange for blessings. And in some countries young men would sing “soulful songs” door to door – in exchange for alcohol, money and food. Villagers masqueraded on this day.
“The Pumpkin” evolved from the turnip. In Ireland revelers went from door to door lit by a fire in a carved out turnip. Apparently pumpkins were more readily available in America and the turnip lost favor.
When the Irish migrated to American during and after the famine in the 1800’s they brought their ghost stories, traditions and sense of fun with them. This was the point when Halloween started to take off.
Why do we Celebrate Halloween – Romance?
It appears Halloween has been a special time for finding a mate.
“Find a spring on Halloween. Take a mouthful of water – do not swallow. Walk home backwards and then climb into bed backwards. Then swallow the water. Your future husband will appear in a dream. On top of this you are now allowed to speak with the water in your mouth”. There are many versions of this ritual.”
Dig up a cabbage or kale. Examine it carefully. If it tastes bitter your mate will be bitter. Examine the root – their shape represents the shape of your partner’s spine”. And the amount of soil on the roots indicates your future wealth. Apparently it works better if the plant is stolen.
Why do we Celebrate Halloween – Jack O’ lantern.
The Jack O’ lantern (will-o’-the-wisp) we see today evolved from the flickering lights seen over peat bogs and marshes. But in centuries gone we were ill advised to follow these lights as we may wander off a safe path. If you see these lights in a graveyard they are called “Ghost Candles”.
The beauty of Halloween is that it has evolved and will continue to evolve. Enjoy the dress up, the witches, the laughter, the trick and treating and the atmosphere.
So, why do we celebrate Halloween? More importantly, why do you celebrate Halloween? There lies the answer.