Halloween Tradition

halloween owlHalloween, today, seems to be all about fancy dress costumes and kids playing trick or treat but where did it all start and where are we going? All Hallows’ Eve, 31st October, a night for trickery and deception or a time of celebration of harvest?
Halloween tradtions can be dated back as far as 2000 years ago with the Celtic festival Samhain, marking the end of summer, harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter ahead. It symbolised the boundary between the living and the dead too. A time when those that had died that year crossed over to the other world. The Celts believed ghosts would return at night so large bonfires were lit to ward off evil spirits and fruit and nuts would be left out to placate them. As time moved on this was extended to carved faces out of vegetables lit in windows to protect the inhabitants andhearth fires burning throughout the night, the embers lighting the fire the following day to warm the family in the dark winter months.
Apple bobbing and other such games were part of the festival as well as telling ghost stories. Celebrating the hardwork of the harvest and a time to relax a little. As time went on and religion changed, the Christians altered the festival a little to reflect their beliefs. Remembering the dead on All Hallows’ Eve and the following day All Saints Day to remember those who had died for their beliefs. This is when we can hear the beginning of Halloween as the name we know.
It was the Irish who introduced the American’s to the Jack O’Lantern.The story goes that a lazy but shrewd farmer called Jack tricked the devil into a tree and refused to let him down until he agreed that he would never let him into hell. However, when the time came he was too sinful to be allowed into heaven and so carved out one of his squashes, put a candle insde and wandered the Earth forever more as the devil wouldn’t let him into hell either. So be careful what you wish for!
Halloween cat
The Americans aren’t all to blame for the lovely trick or treat tradition either as we did have our our version called ‘Mischief Night’ when children were allowed a night of unpunished pranks. It seems that the American popularity of this celebration is rubbing off on the UK though with more and more people putting on parties, dressing up and generally enjoying a chaotic evening. I have to say i do like the fact that the kids can dress up as anything, it doesn’t have to be scary although I do love a good witch!