Yes! It's the time where kids get very excited because the scariest night of the year is coming next week! It means costumes, make-up and sweets! A load of candies and chocolates are displayed at shops and supermarkets surrounded by spooky decorations and bundle offers.
Halloween is here and depends on your country and culture that date is celebrated in different ways. But where does this celebration come from?
Once upon a time...
It started as an ancient Celtic festival in which people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. It was known as ‘All Hallows Eve’ back then as it was the evening before All Saints Day on 1 November, eventually "Halloween."
This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.
To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes.
By 43 A.D., the Roman Empire had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the 400 years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.
The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honour Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple, and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of bobbing for apples that is practised today on Halloween.
By the 9th century, the influence of Christianity in Europe spread into Celtic lands, where it gradually blended with and supplanted older Celtic rites. The church made November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honour the dead.
This was in Europe, but why many people believe it comes from the US?
In the second half of the 19th century, America was flooded with new immigrants. These new immigrants, especially the millions of Irish, helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally.
Halloween was extremely limited in colonial New England because of the rigid Protestant belief systems there. Halloween was much more common in Maryland and the southern colonies.
As the beliefs and customs of different European ethnic groups and the American Indians meshed, a distinctly American version of Halloween began to emerge. The first celebrations included “play parties,” which were public events held to celebrate the harvest. Neighbours would share stories of the dead, tell each other’s fortunes, dance and sing.
Borrowing from European traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition.
At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focused on games, foods of the season and festive costumes.
Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones by the beginning of the twentieth century evolving into something more light-hearted, as people take the night as a festive gathering.
Since then, children enjoy crafting decorations, carving pumpkins, making costumes and preparing bags to fill them up with as many candies as they can eat for more than one month - I always hide some! - and playing games!
On my next post, I will talk about how Mexicans celebrate "El Dia de Muertos", but if you want to start preparing decorations and planning some creepy snacks, have a look here
And to keep kids busy and creative, the Wolols have prepared a FUNtastic Activity Book with 60 pages of DIY games and activities to keep kids entertained. This year there won't be many "Trick or Treat" around neighbourhoods, so I hope this will help to add fun into family celebrations.
I wish you a spooky week preparing Halloween family party!