Fri 31 Oct, 2008 02:26 pm
I knew that halloween had something to do with the souls of the dead, and that they would be able to rise on halloween, but I never knew where this belief/tradition started. I pasted a brief history below.
I remember as a kid the day after halloween, All Souls Day, was a holy day of obligation, which meant church. To me that sucked because we got the day after halloween off, but still had to get up early for church.
Myself, I don't get into halloween much. I didn't have much imagination I guess, and when the other kids would talk about what they were going to be, I could never think of anything....I dunno, the whole idea of putting on a costume seemed....weird. My mom didn't have any imaginination either I guess, because every year she just wanted me to put on some mens clothes, roll up the pants legs, smear lipstick on my face, and go out there as a "bum" I'd be really self conscious once out on the street, because I could see how lame that was. One year I begged and begged to be a ghost, having in my minds eye those cartoons of people wearing a sheet with a hole cut in it for eyes.
My mom didn't want to ruin the sheet, so she wrapped a sheet around me, and took the end and just wrapped it around my neck and head, with my entire face sticking out. I could tell it looked really stupid, and the stupid thing would never stay on anyway, so I gave up and went as a bum.
not complaining, but those ar my experiences of halloween, for what it's worth.
here's the history...
Halloween is full of costumes and candy, trick-or-treating and terrifying haunted houses, pumpkins and black cats. But just where did Halloween come from? Why are we celebrating?
The history of Halloween goes back 2000 years. Many believe that Halloween’s origins are found in the Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts, who were located in Ireland, the UK and the northern parts of France, celebrated their New Year on the first of November. Samhain was celebrated the night before the New Year.
The New Year, Celts believed, marked summer’s end, harvest time, and the start of dark, cold winter months. Those winter months were associated with death by these people. On October 31, the night before the New Year, the Celts celebrated Samhain. This day, they believed, was when the ghosts of the deceased returned to earth because the boundaries between the living world and the dead world blurred.
When we think of “Trick-Or-Treating”, the origins can probably be found in the English All Souls’ Day parades. During these celebrations, the poor would come out and beg for food from the more wealthy families. When the families gave them pastries called “soul cakes”, they asked for the poor to pray for their relatives that had passed away.
Another possibility that may have grown into “Trick-Or-Treating” is the tradition of people leaving bowls of food in front of their homes. They did this to keep the ghosts that were wandering the earth from entering.
Dressing in costumes has a couple possible origins. European and Celtic people both felt winter was a frightening time. It was cold, it was darker, and the possibility of running out of food was great. When they reached the time when they thought the dead returned, they thought they might encounter these ghosts whenever they left their houses. The wearing of masks and costumes grew from these people donning masks so the ghosts would not recognize them!
This holiday was brought to the US by Scotch and Irish immigrants in the 1800s. At that time, much of the “spookiness” of the holiday was removed and a sense of community and fun were added. Although scary themes are still the focus of many Halloween celebrations, that scariness is done for fun, not because of actual fear.
Halloween is currently the 2nd largest commercial holiday!
Well, I've won several prizes for some of my costumes - one year a co-worker and I came as sumo wrestlers; another I was a corpse complete with dead leaves sticking out of my pockets, and another the same co-worker and I were the Blues Brothers (not too original, but my hand-sewn microphone was a hit).
We also used to have theme parties - two of which were: Come as your favourite Italian, in honour of an Italian researcher which joined the university (three people came as the Italian luge team in a sled around their waists with Catelli pasta packaging stapled to it), and what became known as "the Dot Party" - it was an Indian theme where everyone had to dress up, bring an Indian dish and wear a dot on their forehead. That was a great party.
A couple of trick-or treat stories.
I reckon I was about 7, so my brother would have been 11. Alexandria, VA, (a suburb of DC) was filled, where we lived, with military folks (Captains, Majors, Generals) and foreign diplomats and their children. A bunch of us would go out without, amazingly, any adult supervision. It was 1953 or so.
So we get to this sidewalk outside this one house. My brother speaks: "This man and his wife always invite the kids in for cider and cookies and, if needed, a bathroom break. They are very nice people. But do not ask the General about the pictures on the wall. Do not ask about the pictures."
So we ring the bell, are invited in, and I see the pictures. Amazing paintings and prints of wars fought gloriously. And I blurt out, pointing to one of them, the 1953 equivalent of "That is awesome."
The General pounces as my brother rolls his eyes. We get a very, very, very detailed lecture about the battle of ... whatever. 15 minutes.