Halloween celebration has developed into the present form over a period of time. Even though there are different claims by historians about the origin of Halloween and when the practice started, there is no hard evidence to prove any particular points of view.
The present day Halloween is all about costumes and playing pranks etc. However, some traditional practices are still continuing in some countries. One of them is remembering the ancestors of the families by making lanterns of turnips.
This is considered to be a sort of purgatory for the ancestors. Turnip lanterns were used in European countries and the practice has been imported into the USA and is still followed in many communities. The Americans true to their style have been using pumpkins in place of turnips.
Halloween practices have come from different sources. Ancient Gothic literature, horror stories, like Dracula, Frankenstein have all been converted into an amalgam of scare mongering during Halloween celebrations in certain communities. According to literature available the key element in Halloween is playing cheerful pranks.
Invoking fear through associations with ghosts is a way of creating scare. Decorations for Halloween used to be the farm products at the end of the season like pumpkin etc. Scarecrows a part of farming operations are also useful for Halloween celebrations.
For some reason Halloween has been associated with themes of occult, mythical monsters etc. However, the scare mongering part nowadays a limited appeal and the focus is more on children’s enjoyment.
Many practices of the present day Halloween started from the British Isles and European country Sweden. However it is noteworthy that Halloween are unheard of many European countries. The practice of Guising is traced to Christmas wassailing and the middle Ages.
Present day children enjoy going about in their costumes Trick-or-Treating. This is again a modified version of medieval practice. On Halloween day poor people used to go about collecting food from the neighborhood and in return pray for the ancestors of the families on the occasion of All Saints Day.
Historians have taken pains to find out that this practice was prevalent in Britain and Italy. The present from children’s Guising was given shape in Ireland and Scotland.
Americans have inherited Halloween customs through their forefathers who immigrated to the USA from Europe for various reasons. Americans have practiced Halloween celebrations with true enjoyment but with their own adaptations. Some of their adaptations have become popular in European countries also.
Historians are confused and they will confuse you also by their efforts to trace the origins of the various practices in Halloween celebrations. Where as one section, holds on to the view that Trick and Treat originated in Europe in middle Ages and there are others who claim that it was prevalent in Canada. The key element in present day Halloween celebration is to have maximum fun by wearing different costumes.
Apart from other traditional practices costumes play a key part in Halloween celebrations. One aspect of Halloween is that it comes right after the apple harvest season and candies and sweets made of apple are usual treats served by people to their visiting guests.
Known as candy apples, these were given to children as treats. As Halloween is a fun event allegations have been made that these apples were dangerous to eat because of embedded items like blades, pins etc. These have been investigated and found to be untrue.
However parents are scared and do not allow their children to accept such apples as treats. Halloween is an occasion when in many household prepare several types of food items including candies, sweets etc. As a token of love the baked items like fruit cake have a coin or ring placed in them before baking. The items that are baked have different names in various countries all of them using corn and apples.