Monday, 25 October 2010

Halloween Customs and Traditions

A Brief History of Halloween

Halloween has its origins in the ancient Samhain festival celebrated by the Celts to signify the end of summer. Many of today’s Halloween customs can be traced back to Celtic times. Halloween is also known as All Saint’s Day. The Roman Catholic Church created this name to celebrate saints without their own specific days during the rest of the year.

European Halloween Customs
Bonfires are often lit in Ireland on October 31st. This tradition dates back to the Celts, who used fire to ward off evil spirits. The Celts also dressed in animal skins on Halloween, and believed that the dead returned to earth disguised as various creatures.

One of these creatures was a black cat, which remains a familiar symbol of Halloween.
Apples also have strong ties to Halloween. Some believe the fruit can be used to predict future partners. Another Halloween custom involves bobbing for apples in water. In Scotland this is referred to as “dooking.”

Jack o’ Lanterns are a familiar site at Halloween. There are several theories about where they originate from. An 18th century Irish folk tale features a character called Jack, who is refused entry to both heaven and hell upon his death. The Devil shows him pity and presents Jack with a lump of coal. Jack then places the coal inside a hollowed out turnip, lights it and uses I to illuminate his path.
Other explanations include references to the will o’ the wisp phenomena, when peculiar lights are seen to form over peat bogs. Night watchmen were sometimes referred to as Jack o’ Lanterns, providing yet another possible origin for today’s pumpkin carving.

Halloween in America
Halloween did not become a major festival in America until the early 19th century, when it was popularised by the huge number of Irish immigrants arriving. Nowadays it is the second largest festival in the country, after Christmas. European customs such as trick or treating and wearing fancy dress are widespread.



Carla Bruni said...

Hi everybody,

Very useful information, I didn't know some facts about Halloween, of course nowadays this party is more ingrained in Spain too.

But it seems to me that its origins are Irish, cos I've read that Halloween has its origins in a Celtic festival known as Samhain (old Irish) which means "the end of summer".

Anyway, Spaniards like all kind of parties (lol) it doesn't matter where are they from. Costumes, haunted houses, terrifying stories, jokes and of course don't forget the well know PUMPKIN.

I really hope you have a scary Halloween night! Don't be afraid, only enjoy it!

Au revoir mes amis!!

Naota Nandaba Kasugano said...

It is a very interesting tradition that the irish show to the US but I really hate it when we celebrate halloween in Spain, it's as ridiculous as the americans celebrating "el día de la hispanidad". I just don't get the point.

Dulce said...

Thanks for your comments my dear friends
So nice to see you back, Naota.
You rock!


Toni said...

31st October is famous for Americans, Irish people... but also in The Canaries.

Have you ever heard anything about "La Noche de Los Finaos"... I strongly recommend this link, and hope you enjoy it.

P's on U

Toni said...

Uppps.... sorry! I forgot to paste the link!

Click here, or copy this url on your navigation bar:

Dulce said...

Thank you Toni
really intersting for everyone!