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Origins of Halloween
by Jack Wellman
2007-10-31 09:54:54
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Halloween. It has a history that has a dark side and one with a new beginning.

Halloween or All Hallows' Eve, is adjacent to and preceded by All Saints Day on November 1st. Jack-o-Lanterns, witches, etc., were intended to scare away evil or wicked spirits. The deceased spirits of the dead were supposed to roam on this night. Treats were intended to be offerings to the dead. Lighted candles enabled safe passage for any visitations from the dead.

November 1st and 2nd are All Saints Day, where the graves of friends, relatives and historical figures are cleaned and decorated. There is a celebrating or hallowing of their names or gravesites. In Latin American cultures, November 1st is designated for the angelitos (little angels which are deceased infants and children) and November 2nd for deceased adults.

However, the earliest records of Halloween’s origins can be traced to ancient Scotland and Ireland, where the Celts celebrated New Year's Eve on October 31st. This was due to the fact that November 1st was their New Year‘s Day. The Celtic League November 1st as the beginning of the New Year. It was hallowed as a special movement, from one time to another - an ending of one year of events and into a new, beginning set of events. And they wanted all the luck they could get. We might carry a rabbit's foot for good luck; the ancient Druids offered drinks, foods, animal and even human sacrifices to ward off evil spirits.

For most European cultures it was the traditional end of fall or late summer and the beginning of winter. Today, it is simply a big spending promotion more than anything. In the U.S., it is the 3rd biggest spending period of the year, slightly lagging behind only Christmas and New Year’s Eve/Day.

Every nation that participates seems to have their own culture-specific version of Halloween. No two are exactly alike. I highly recommend looking at the history of your nation's customs of Halloween on Wikipedia.org; it is both interesting and revealing.

Worldwide, costume parties are now the most common (and fun) events of Halloween. My children and grandchildren love it, but I really think the adults seem to be having all the fun. Toga, toga, toga…

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Emanuel Paparella2007-10-31 10:30:25
A follow-up on costume parties: what should you do if you find yourself in the same room as Frankenstein, Dracula, a werewolf, a vampire and a coven of witches?
Keep your fingers crossed that it's a fancy dress party.

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