Halloween: Tradition to Modern Practices

Halloween is observed as day for fun and enjoyment usually on the 31st of October every year. Activities include Guising, Trick or Treating, creating lanterns out of turnips or pumpkins, hold parties and games, light bonfires, scaring people by wearing scare creating costumes and narrating frightening stories. It is a mixture of several things without any proper significance to any aspect of the celebrations. For people who claim to be secular and make fun of other people’s customs that people in Europe and America hold such function every year. In fact the present day practices are great distortions of what Halloween signified in times past in Europe. Historians have recorded that Halloween is associated with Christmas Wassailing and Trick or Treat an essential part of poor feeding. Poor had nothing material in return they prayed for the givers ancestors’ ion All Saints Day.

Present day Halloween celebrations can be grouped in two distinct types with only one common feature. Wearing funny looking and scare creating costumes is common to both the parts. One type gets enjoyment from creating fun whereas the other derives its enjoyment by scaring people. Costumes play a significant role in Halloween celebrations. To start with the costumes are new and come from designer store. There is great variety to choose from, taste and purpose. Little kids get scared on seeing the scary clothes but little older ones do enjoy wearing any types of costumes as long as they are new. Wearing these costumes, moving about visiting neighbors for Trick or Treat is great fun and profitable. Elders in the neighborhood love the children happily give sweets, candies and some money to them.

Halloween was an occasion when the postal authorities used post cards to depict various facets of celebrations. However, the practice has not been continued and it is only memory for old timers. Halloween was used and perhaps is being used even now to create illusions. Some depictions on greeting cards of early 20th century show young women peering into mirrors of dark room in the hope that their future husband’s will appear there. Another form is to predict a person’s would be spouse by peeling an apple in one strip. Tossing the peel over someone’s shoulder and on its landing one can see the initial letter of would be spouse’s name. The dark room had dark forebodings also, if instead of would be husband’s face a skull appears it is an indication of immediate death for her.      

There is no limit to such imaginary “divinity” stories. The Halloween celebrations have made people specialize on ghost stories and there are many people enjoy them. Halloween parties are for people with a strong heart because it is an occasion where apart from story-telling, screening of Hollywood horror films is also a traditional custom. Television productions are also coming out with horror shows. One redeeming feature about TV show is that many of them are targeted at children with predominantly fun feature.

Halloween celebrations do vary from country to country, even though they are not celebrated in many countries. European countries still give a lot of importance to traditional forms of Halloween. Guising children form an important aspect in their celebration. Lighting bonfires, fireworks etc are common events. However, American influences large-scale commercialization. Because Halloween gives much enjoyment to children the church and secular elements have not found anything objectionable in Halloween celebrations. There were some fears that the celebrations encouraged occult, paganism etc; some pamphlets have been circulated airing such views and it was in minuscule minority that it did not have much of an impact. Halloween can be viewed from several angles even by those who participate in the celebration common to all is the enjoyment of holiday with the entire community participating without much religious fervor.

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