31st October 2020. It’s Halloween everyone and it is going to be a bit different this year. With all the lockdowns and Corona rules and regulations across the world, then as I said – different.
The actual meaning of Hallow e’en or ‘All Hallows’ dates back to ancient times. It is the evening before All Saint’s Day (1st November). It originates from the old Keltic calendar when the year began on the 1st November, so in fact Halloween was a sort of New Year’s Eve. The harvest was gathered and the seeds for sowing next year were ready. So, after a long year, it was time for a day off. The Celtic New Year (or Samhain) was originally an Irish word for the month of November.
This day was celebrated in England, by the Celts and they believed this was the evening when all the ghosts of people who had died, came back to visit their families and tried to take over someone’s body who was still living, for the coming new year. A bit creepy and it made me think of the famous film ‘Ghost’. To attract the ghosts to rise up and visit, people put out food at their doors. But to scare away the angry ghosts, people made masks. When the Romans invaded England, they mixed the old Celtic traditions with their own. In the 9th Century when Christianism crossed the seas and mixed with many other cultures. People began to dress up and offered people special bread made with currants and raisins. With each bread, they said prayers to the ones who had passed away in each family. To not only help them on their ascension to heaven but this may also have been the origin of the now famous ‘trick or treat’.
Halloween is a major happening mainly in the USA. People buy costumes, decorate their gardens with spooky things, like skeletons, spiders with sticky webs, hollowed out pumpkins with scary faces which were originally called ‘Jack o’ Lanterns’. During the majority of the 20th Century this was essentially a feast for children. Dressing up and going from door to door for tricks or treats. The whole idea being to scare the person who opened their door. And hoping that they had an extensive tray full of sweets to choose from. By the end of the evening, the bag would hopefully be full !
Recently this has become a feast for young and old and adults love to dress up too! Have parades and Halloween parties. Scaring people was the theme and the costumes and make up got more and more adventurous.
I can remember as a child growing up in England that we would often decorate our garage and have a party there with all the local kids. Light tea-lights and spend days hollowing out the biggest pumpkin we could find and making a scary face. Hang wool to make spiders webs. It was all good innocent fun, but now things have taken on a much bigger proportion, certainly in the USA. And then of course there was Bonfire Night to follow on the 5th November with fires in the garden and fireworks. This really originated from Guy Fawkes and the fact that he tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London, with gunpowder.
It is sad this year that a fun feast for children is going to be so restricted by the current world situation and that we all have to take care still to stop the spreading of this virus.
But people will always be inventive and I saw on the television that people in the USA had made special long sticks to give children their treats if they came to the door. What will happen tonight I don’t know, seeing as there are now curfews and the stopping of crowds on the streets in large number.
But Happy Halloween everyone wherever you are in the world today. Keep strong and Keep Safe.
And a little extra this year: It’s a full moon! The first Full Moon on Fixed Earth since 1944 at Halloween