Why We Celebrate HALLOWEEN
What does Halloween represent? better known as the eve of All Saints’ Day. Halloween in Western countries is about ghosts, ghouls, goblins, and the supernatural.
In Britain, Halloween is associated with children playing ‘Trick or Treat’ a game where children dress up and visit neighbours’ houses threatening to play practical jokes on the inhabitants if not rewarded with sweets or money. All harmless fun of course.
In recent years, the number of local events organised to “celebrate” Halloween has shot up. Also, merchandise is readily available and many families decorate their homes as they do at Christmas.
Where did this phenomenon come from anyway, the United States? We spoke to Kit Bennett from American website Amazing Moms who pleads guilty on all counts.
Kit says, “It’s huge, I would say it’s right up there with Christmas for kids. We as always have gone over the top,” she said. However, Kit, herself a Grandmother and teacher said she has noticed a change in the United States and people have become more safety conscious.
“How we deal with it has changed. It’s actually getting a little lower key. The kids love to dress up and have the candy but we don’t trick or teat so much now. Our children go to shopping plazas now and go store to store to get candy. Many schools are no longer able to celebrate Halloween but they’ll call it a Harvest Party.”
Kit also told us that some children are banned from attending Halloween events and have accused other children of worshipping evil. Oh dear, this sounds like this yearly activity of fun is all becoming a bit too serious. She also went on to say that the event is becoming a big religious activity in the United States with some people not celebrating it for that reason alone.
However, she did want to point out that she and her family do spend time together on October 31st carving pumpkins and enjoying the whole social occasion.
The most popular Halloween costumes in the United States are a Princess costume for the girls and a Superhero for the boys – again different from the UK where it’s a Witch or Dracula.
In the traditional sense Halloween, or Hallowe’en, is a holiday celebrated on the night of October 31st. Halloween activities include trick-or-treating, ghost tours, bonfires, costume parties, visiting “haunted houses”, carving Jack-o’-lanterns, reading scary stories and watching horror movies. It’s also believed that Irish immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century. Other western countries embraced the holiday in the late twentieth century. Halloween is celebrated in several countries of the Western world, most commonly in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Ireland, Puerto Rico, Japan, New Zealand, and occasionally in parts of Australia. Plus, in Sweden the All Saints’ official holiday takes place on the first Saturday of November.
The most recognisable symbol is the carved pumpkin, lit by a candle inside, this is one of Halloween’s most prominent symbols in America, and is commonly called a jack-o-lantern. Originating in Europe, these lanterns were first carved from a turnip or rutabaga. Believing that the head was the most powerful part of the body containing the spirit and the knowledge, the Celts used the “head” of the vegetable to frighten off any superstitions. The name jack-o’-lantern can be traced back to the Irish legend of Stingy Jack, a greedy, gambling, hard-drinking old farmer. He tricked the devil into climbing a tree and trapped him by carving a cross into the tree trunk. In revenge, the devil placed a curse on Jack, condemning him to forever wander the earth at night with the only light he had: a candle inside of a hollowed turnip.
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