Halloween Origins and Activities

It has been the belief of many that there is a wedge between fall and winter which brings a tag between paucity and plenty, life and death. This belief originated from an ancient festival in the eighth century called the Celtic Festival of Samhain that involved bonfires, of people warding off ghosts in costumes. This later became famous and went y the name of All Hallows’ Eve and later it became known as Halloween. It has since evolved over time to become a communal event which involves costume parties, candy, trick- or- treating and other child friendly activities.

Halloween has now become a national holiday that is celebrated on the 31st of October. It has adopted some modern practices such as trick or treating, watching scary movies, sharing treats, apple bobbing, bonfires, pumpkin carving, playing pranks and costume parties.

Halloween symbols

History dates Halloween symbols back to the Roman Feast of Pomona where the Romans held a festival of the dead to the goddess of seeds and fruits to ensure that the dead rest away from the living. This also marked the end of summer hence the name Samuin which translates to mean the end of summer.

The festival was characterized by scary symbols such as dead face masks to ward off the dead. There was carving of turnips which was believed to remember the souls that were trapped in purgatory. It has since evolved to the modern carving of the pumpkin into a jack-o lantern which has been there since the 1800s.

The modern costume parties create a mood of fear with the practices, activities, decorations, movies and the music that are used in the Halloween holidays. Some communities use famous ghosts and movie characters to give a scary feeling to the mood during the celebration. The modern Halloween is not meant to scare people, it is more of a celebration and people spend it having a good time.

 Halloween activities

The original Halloween practices can be traced back to 2000 years ago where the Celt communities celebrated the end of a bright summer to go into a long and dark winter. It was believed that it was a period of mass human death because there was a blur between the living world and the dead world. This was during the night before New Year that the Celts believed that ghosts came back to haunt the living and destroy crops.

They lit big bourn fires to ward off the ghosts and left them burning to protect them in the winter.  The Roman beliefs and the Celtic beliefs got mixed up due to Rome conquering most of the Celtic communities. Romans had their All martyrs day that they celebrated the loss of their Christian heroes, and with time, the All martyrs day and the Celtic Samhain blended into one festival called All hallows day. It involved poor citizens begging for food where they would be given pastries in the sharing spirit of the celebrations.

In the modern day, people dress in costume to create a scary mood. This is a metaphor of the hundreds of years ago when winter was viewed as an uncertain time with scary nights and old days. During that time people wore masks at night to avoid recognition by ghosts, and they put bowls of food outside homes to keep the ghosts out.

The modern Halloween does not have a scary mood since it is a holiday celebration. It is characterized by parties, sugary treats and mischief of all kinds. This is because the beliefs of the dead coming back to the living are treated with skepticism in the modern age. Halloween brings people together in celebration especially young people and peers.

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