Halloween: tradition and traditions

Halloween: tradition and traditions

The much anticipated (and a bit scary) holiday of autumn is here. Today, we celebrate and discuss Halloween: tradition and traditions.

Tradition and history

Today, Halloween is regarded as one of the most “commercial” celebrations worldwide, but its origins are ancient. Halloween is rooted in the old Celtic pagan festival, Samhain. It marked the end of summer and the beginning of the “dark, cold season”. The ancients believed on this sole night, a portal between worlds opened and the dead could walk among the living.

Around the 8th century, Britain has been Christianised for ages, but Celtic pagan reminiscences still lingered. It was in the agenda of the Christian Church that, if they could not eliminate a tradition or feast, they should transform it into something religious. For instance, Christmas started being celebrated in the Roman Empire in place of the old pagan celebration of Sol Invictus. Similarly, in an attempt to change some of the orgiastic practices associated with the old Samhain and the autumn festivals, Christianity merged it with the Feast of all Saints (or All Hallow’s Eve).

Halloween then gained global proportions along with the Europeans’ immigration to America (especially that of the Irish).

Traditions around the world

Halloween is a colorful celebration, but let’s see the origins of some of the traditions:

Trick or treating apparently originates in the Middle Ages, when the poor would gain food from the rich during the festivities.

Spooky costumes were used from the dawns of Halloween, to scare the evil spirits or rather to blend in with them.

Carving lanterns out of pumpkins (or Jack-o’-lantern) is a tradition whose origins fade in the mist of time. Some claim the lanterns were meant to guide people during the feast night, others that it represented the souls of the hollow in Purgatory. Today, they are the most famous symbol of Halloween.

All that’s left now is for us to wish you Happy Halloween!

Meredith Smith

Meredith Smith