Monday, October 26, 2009

Origins of Halloween

Halloween was so different when I was growing up.

It was a creative fest of handmade cowboys, princesses, fairies and pirates. Not a drop of blood.

Maybe a mummy, maybe a witch. But nothing scary! The cardboard black cat on the bulletin board at school was as scary as it got!

Not that our imaginations were not full of spacemen and martians, we just didn't glorify evil.

Zombies and vampires were years away.

We didn't have the luxury of a lot of disposable money, we just chose things at hand to create with. A sailor costume complete with an uncle's navy hat maybe.

My mom trick or treated with me up and down our own neighborhood sidewalks and we got chocolate bars, pennies, apples. We had a huge carnival with game booths and cakewalks at the school, and I remember getting a Chinese finger puzzle, a live goldfish in a glass bowl and a fortunetelling celluloid goldfish every single year for all the six years (seven counting kindergarten) that I was in grammar school and got to wear my costume to the parade and carnival.

It is certainly a holiday for the candy companies. There are not too many mothers who would set their child out to gather candy by the bucketful at any other time. But at this time of year, you will get tricked if you don't treat.

Do you ever wonder what is this holiday really all about?

Per Wikipedia: "Halloween has origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain, which is derived from Old Irish and means roughly "summer's end". A similar festival was held by the ancient Britons and is known as Calan Gaeaf (pronounced kalan-geyf). The festival of Samhain celebrates the end of the "lighter half" of the year and beginning of the "darker half", and is sometimes regarded as the "Celtic New Year".

The celebration has some elements of a festival of the dead. The ancient Celts believed that the border between this world and the Otherworld became thin on Samhain, allowing spirits (both harmless and harmful) to pass through. The family's ancestors were honoured and invited home whilst harmful spirits were warded off.

It is believed that the need to ward off harmful spirits led to the wearing of costumes and masks. Their purpose was to disguise oneself as a harmful spirit and thus avoid harm. In Scotland the spirits were impersonated by young men dressed in white with masked, veiled or blackened faces"

Hence the tradition of wearing masks and costumes that we still practice even if not for the original reasons.

And that is just the beginning of some of the history of the traditions that we practice now. Click over, good article.


Vanessa said...

That was a wonderful history lesson Nora! Now that is a Halloween I wouldnt mind celebrating.. but now its just a bunch of blood and guts.. sad really.. where have all the cute costumes gone!! I got a costume for flora..she is a punkin LOL! She doesnt like wearing it.. but she looks so cute..This post brought up memories of my costumes growing up. I was a firewoman, barbie, 1950s poodle skirt, gypsy, witch.. and there are probably a few im leaving out. I hope you have a great day!! God bless you :)

Merry's Musings said...

That is so cute. I want to see the pics of Flora in her costume. I love the old costumes. Happy fall!


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