It is believed that Halloween dates back to the Celtic community that is now known as the United Kingdom thousands of years ago. It began as a festival to mark the end of bright days of fall as they entered into the uncertain dark winter days. The Celtic community believed that there was a veil between good and evil and it was stretched to its thinnest during that time.
There was a festival called the Samhain festival that marked the end of summer and the start of winter. The Celtics believed that during this time, the ghosts of the dead would return and some would inhabit the living animals such as black cats and haunt the living. They would go from door to door collecting food to offer to their gods for protection from evil. The excess food was to help the poor. They also lit sacred bourn fires and dressed up in scary masks to confuse the ghosts and ward them off.
The Celtic Samhain blended with the Roman All Martyrs festival after they got conquered by Rome. The two blended into one All hallows eve that was a combination of celebrating a big harvest and honoring the dead. It has the spread to the other parts of the world over time and become the modern Halloween holiday.
Different Halloween celebrations across the world
The modern Halloween is a collection of mythical commemoration of the original all hallows eve, where people dress up in scary costumes and play pranks on each other. Communities hold costume parties where they share treats and celebrate together in mischief as they tell horror stories and mimic the dead.
In the modern day, many countries mimic what the last generation did on Halloween. Ireland is believed to be the origin of it all. They still light bourn fires in most parts and the children go for trick-or treating in the neighbourhood. People plan costume parties and play games like snap-apple, treasure hunts, cards and apple bobbing. The food eaten includes fruitcakes, muslin treats and sugar candy. The children play pranks on each other and on the neighbors.
In Austria, they leave a lamp, bread and water on the table before going to sleep incase ghost comes. They believe that the candles magically bring back the dead and they put out food to welcome them. Canadians carve the jack O’ lanterns to decorate their homes and go trick or treating with. In Belgium, it is believed that if a black cat crosses ones path, they will have bad luck in their journey.
The Chinese refer to the Halloween festival as Teng Chieh. They honor the departed by placing bowls of food infront of their photos. They light lanterns and bourn fires characterized by burning boats made from paper in the evening. This is believed to free the spirits of accident victims who were never buried. They offer fruits for the ‘Pretas’ which is a farewell ceremony.
The French did not have Halloween until the 1990s when it was introduced by tourists, and they view Halloween as an American holiday. The country is famous for parties and costumes so the holiday has been commercialized. Halloween was first celebrated in an American dream bar in the country where most customers did not understand it, but it became common in Paris as time passed by.
The themes and symbols of Halloween are used by corporate bodies to sell themselves during the season. The celebrations are characterized by people hosting costume parties and getting scary costumes unlike Americans who sometimes have cute costumes such as cartoons, Princesses and fruits. The trick or treating is done in restaurants, bars and stores not in homes. The pastry treats and decorations are not in house holds, but in the city stores and restaurants.