Halloween is one of the most exciting festivals of the year. On this day, people can dress up in funny or scary costumes. But it’s not just about celebration and fun, the meaning behind this holiday is also amazing. Keep on reading to learn about the origins, customs, and why Halloween Day is important.
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Halloween Customs & Traditions
Have you ever wondered how Halloween began and who started the bizarre practices that have evolved into our celebration today? Here are some customs and traditions that we still keep today.
Scroll down to know more why Halloween Day is important and its fun facts!
Trick or Treating
The common ritual of knocking on people’s doors and saying: ‘trick or treat’ began in the 16th century in some European countries. Many people went door to door asking for something to eat in exchange for a song. However, things have changed for small children over the years as they have started going door to door asking for candy.
Children and young people dress up with costumes and masks of ghosts go from door to door in the neighborhood, knock on the door and say “trick or treat”. This sentence means: “If you don’t want us to play bad, treat us to something”. Usually, neighbors always want to avoid “tricks”, so they often treat them with candies and fruits.
The Halloween costume tradition dates back to the Celts when they lit large bonfires and celebrated Samhain by dressing up in elaborate animal skins and heads to disguise themselves as spirits and demons so that real people couldn’t distinguish them as being human. Their rituals include dancing, telling stories, and reading fortunes.
Then the tradition came to America and took on a different form. On Halloween, it is believed that the spirits and ghosts of the dead return to roam the earth. People then put on masks and dress up in a costume to look like one of the spirits to avoid being recognized as one of the living.
Jack ‘O Lanterns
The tradition of carving lanterns has its origins in the Celts, telling the story of a guy named Stingy Jack who tricked the devil for his own gain. After his death, he could not enter both heaven and hell and had to wander the earth listlessly. Jack places a piece of charcoal in a carved turnip and uses it as a lantern to ward off evil spirits. Today, pumpkins (easier to cut) are carved into lanterns, lit, and placed outside doorways for the same purpose.
In Northern Ireland, the Druids would perform rituals and sacrifices to placate their gods. The Celts would bring wood and start their Samhain fire or celebrate a fire festival on top of the hill. Usually, they throw the bones of slaughtered cattle into the fire.
The word “bonfire” also came from here, it is said to have originated from such “bone fires”. Making fires and sacrifices ensures that the sun will burn brightly after a cold and dreary winter. Today, we can witness hundreds of traditional bonfires in Ireland each year on Halloween Night.
Why Halloween Day is important?
For European and American countries, Halloween has become an annual fun festival for all ages, especially children. But few people care to find out what it means and why Halloween Day is important. Through Jack’s story, the life lesson that young people need to draw is: Life should not be greedy, miserly, must have charity, compassion, know to help the needy, should not cheat, threaten or frighten others.
Interesting facts about Halloween
- Besides black cats, owls are a popular image on Halloween. In the Middle Ages in Europe, owls were associated with ghosts and witches. Every time the owl cried, it was an omen that someone was about to die.
- Samhainophobia is the name of the strange syndrome of people who are afraid of Halloween. Accordingly, these people usually stay indoors on this day and absolutely do not go to places where people are dressed up.
- Sadly, on Halloween night, more children die from accidents and go missing than on any other day of the year.
- In the olden days, if someone dressed up as a witch for Halloween, they had to bring an ebony cat with them. Because, many people believe that the ebony cat is a close servant to the witch.
- During the old Halloween festival, people used to light a bonfire and play and dance around. They do so because they want the Sun to shine again after the long cold winter is over and for good luck.
Halloween Around The World
Take a look at some activities and customs of countries where Halloween is extremely impressive!
Halloween in North America
Halloween was introduced to the US by Irish and Scottish immigrants and has become a major folk festival in the United States and Canada. On this holiday, children often play trick or treat.
They will wear costumes and masks and then go from door to door, knocking on the door to meet the owner and say “trick or treat.” In order to avoid “trick”, the owners often give them candy, fruits, or even money.
Halloween in Mexico
In the fall in Mexico, monarch butterflies fly back to nest on fir trees and people here believe that these butterflies are the embodiment of the souls of the deceased.
On Halloween, Mexicans decorate their home altars with bread, candles, flowers, and fruit. Candles are lit in memory of deceased ancestors.
In the evening, they dress up in ghost clothes and parade through the streets with a living person placed in a coffin. After that, they will visit the cemetery, decorate the graves of their loved ones and stay there all night.
Halloween In European Countries
In the UK, the focus of Halloween is the burning bonfires on the streets. Unlike other places, these bonfires are not meant to ward off wandering spirits but to refer to the story of Guy Fawkes, who intended to blow up Council House in London in 1605. Guy Fawkes’ effigy burned during the carnival.
In Germany, people celebrate Halloween with extreme joy. In addition to the pumpkin lights, the carnival is the activity that attracts the most people. Dressed in the costumes of the traditional characters, of the witches, they danced and sang around the big bonfires day and night.
Now you know why Halloween Day is important as well as the origins of its traditions and costumes. Tell your kids and teach them good things in life.