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Did You Know? The History of Halloween
Did you know - That Halloween is older than Christmas? Halloween dates back over 2000 years, to the times of the ancient Celts. They lived in an area which today makes up the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Northern France. The Celtic name of the holiday that we now celebrate as Halloween was Samhain (pronounced “sow-in”). However this name varied depending on regions - In Wales the name of the holiday was Hollantide, in Cornwall it was known as Allantide; and in Brittany it was called Kala-Goanv.
Did You Know - That the Pope helped create Halloween? In 600 A.D Christianity was spreading rapidly throughot the Western World. As the Catholic church grew more and more powerful they set about quelling and controlling ancient paegan festivals and rituals. However, despite their best attempts they could not eradicate Samhain, so instead of allienating the Celts they decided to host their own similar holidays on November 1st and November 2nd respectively. These days were All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day and similar to Samhain were festivals utilized to honour the dead. The eve of All Souls day was known as Hallow Mas, which as the years progressed transformed into the Halloween that we know today.
Did You Know - That the Celts celebrated Halloween (samhain) as New Years? 2000 years ago in the United Kingdom (which didn't exist) people did things a little differently come New Years, which was celebrated on November 1st. The Halloween / Samhain period was when the Celt's believed that the light months of the year met the dark months. Much like our New Years Eve the eve of Samhain was celebrated with festivities and celebrations marking a new start, however these festivities also circled around harvest and predominantly death! So, no New Year's resolutions then!
Did You Know - The real reason why costumes are worn on Halloween?
While millions of us around the world wear Halloween fancy dress costumes on the 31st of October very few actually know where the tradition stems from. If you have read the previous "Did You Knows" you might have a sneaky suspicion that it was infact those innovative Celt's who were responsible... The Ancient Celts believed that the gate between the worlds of the living and the dead was opened on the eve of New Years. - October 31st. The souls of the dead could cross onto the plain of the living for one day only, as ghosts. The only problem with this was that some of these ghosts were not too pleasant! They would destroy crops, houses and were even believed to murder those amongst the living who had befallen them during their lifetimes. In order to disguise themselves from these malevolent ghosts the Celts would don costumes made from Animal skins and heads! By doing this it was believed that the ghost would not be able to recognise them as living and believe that they too were spirits. So, there you have it, in the past costumes were worn for self-preservation while today we just wear them for fun!
Did You Know - The most popular Halloween Tradition was Bonfires?
It is something that happens less and less oftne today, but at it's roots you would have to search near and far to find a Halloween celebration that didn't involve a bonfire. The term bonfire comes from literal translation of "Bone" and "Fire" (can you see where we are going with this?) Yes, as well as the customary logs and shruberyy that adorns bonfires today the ancient celts used to make animal and even human sacrifices and throw the bones onto the bonfires. It was believed that the Celtic priests, known as Druids, could make their divinations and predictions about the future because of this process. After the end of the bonfire those who attended would re-light their personal home hearth fires, which was a practice believed to protect their homes during the dark winter months.
The History of Halloween Costumes
How Halloween has changed over the years
The tradition of Halloween was brought to America with the European immigrants, who kept the holiday’s customs.
In the early colonization of the United States there was a overwhelming protestant influence, which strongly inhibited the celebration of a paegan holiday like Halloween.
Two important facts influenced the development of the American version of Halloween:
As time progressed and America experienced a greater influence of imagrants from across europe and their tradirions amalgamated into the holiday that we have today. These traditions were also combined with those of the Native American Indians who contributed to the way that the season is celebrated to this day.
The first known celebrations of Halloween in America were organized to celebrate the harvest. Neighbours got together to share stories of the dead, as well as sing, dance, and play fortune-telling games. Stories about ghosts and mischief making of all kinds became part of the celebration as well. However, till the first half of the 19th century Halloween was not yet celebrated across the country.
The 19th century
This period saw the growth of Samhain from a small paegan festival into the world-wide celebration that marks Halloween today. The 19th Century was characterized with a new wave of immigrants from Europe, particularly the immigrants from Ireland, who were mainly responsible for developing the popular version of Halloween that we celebrate today.
Taking inspiration from Irish and English traditions, newly arriving Americans began to dress up in different costumes: They also developed on the tradition of "souling" a tradition where Irish peasants would exchange cakes (soul cakes) for food or money. Of course when the Irish arrived in the new land thigs were not exactly easy for them and the harmless tradition became decisively more aggressive with tricks (vandalism) played on those unwilling to give treats. This pastime is where the tradition of Trick-or-Treating comes from.
The 20th century changed Halloween from a mildly celebrated harvest celebration into a full blown international holiday. At the beginning of the century, Halloween parties were organized for both children and adults. Parties focused on foods of the season, games, and festive costumes, but the real explosion in the popularity of the holiday came in the 1950's - when the Baby Boomers were just... babies. From that point on Halloween has grown from strength to strength.
While Halloween has grown into the second largest national holiday in the USA in the UK (it's home) it continues to grow year on year. Across the United Kingdom and the majourity of Europe Halloween is celebrated with parties, games, and trick-or-treating all with great costumes and Halloween decorations. it is widely acknowledged that Halloween is the most creative of all holidays. There are always a plethora of impressive costumes that you will come across and you should expect to see your fair amount of witches, Devils, Zombies and Horror Film Costumes on a street near you come October 31st. You should also expect to see some amazingly creative haunted houses and a few dishes of delicious Halloween treats. However, the most important thing is that whatever you do - just make sure that you are having fun!
How to Avoid a Ghost this Halloween
While we all love Halloween it is after all is a celebration of the dead, so here are a few helpful tips on how you can avoid those pesky spirits from another world paying you a visit this Halloween.
1. Wear a Costume
While time, around 1000 years, may have passed since Samhain was actively celebrated it is important to remember that the ancient Celts are the reason that we wear costumes today. The Celt's wore costumes to disguise and protect themselves from spirits visiting from from the netherworld, and if you feel that you may have done something to befall a ghost, perhaps it is best advised that you do the same!
2. Place bowls of water and food outside your house
If you don't think a costume will be enough to keep those pesky ghosts away come Halloween we reccomend placing bowls of water and food outside your house. The Celt's believed that this was both a sign of respect for the deceased and that it would help to prevent them from actually coming in!
3. Place a Jack-O-Lantern Outside Your House
Jack-O-Lanterns have been used in the UK for milenias. They used to be made from Turnips but are now more commonly constructed from pumpkins. The Jack-O-Lantern comes from the legend of Stingy Jack, a man who was notoriously wicked and even capable of tricking the devil. Stingy Jack was forced to walk the eternal darkness of the netherworld with only a hallowed out Turnip filled with an ember from hell. Jack is allegedly allowed to visit earth on one day a year (Halloween) and during this day he will haunt families who do not have Jack-O-Lantern's in their homes.
How to Have the Perfect Halloween
If you want to have the perfect Halloween you need to prepare well in advance. Get your costume early, plan a trick-or-treating route to follow, get a great selection of party supplies for your house and get ready to have a perfect Halloween. If you need any tips or tricks just follow some of the advice listed below and make this Halloween the best yet!
When organizing a Halloween party
1. First and foremost what you need to do is to set the holiday mood: Decorate your home and yard and use the colours of the season: orange, yellow, green, and brown to add a special ambience to the event.
2. Add a taste of the spook spirit: To really haunt up your house and create the perfect Halloween atmosphere. By adding a few props to your house you are sure to get plaudits from your guests. Some suggestions include: placing a skeleton near your front door, Illuminate your hallway with a red filtered light bulb, which will add a perfect spooky atmosphere with minimal effort.
3. Involve your guests: You will most likely be very busy getting your party organised and you will have a hundred things to do come October, so get your guests involved in the process. Ask your guests to bring carved pumpkins or thematic decorations to the party and things will run as smoothly as possible.
4. Get everyone involved: Think about the most engaging ways to get everyone involved in the party, prepare small prizes for the best dressed costumes. Encourage guests to bring Halloween food and drinks.
5. Create the perfect Halloween Playlist: What good is a Halloween party without the perfect soundtrack? Add a few spooky sound effects, a dash of monster mash, and a few other classics and you can create the perfect Halloween playlist for any party.
When attending a Halloween party
1. Be responsible: RSVP as soon as possible. Avoid inviting additional guests, unless you discussed it in advance with the party organizer.
2. Prepare your fancy dress: Ask the host if there is a special theme to the party. If the theme is Middle Ages, do not think about knight or princess costumes only… The knights will need a monster to kill and the princesses – a frog to kiss… Make sure you order your costume well in advance of your event.
3. Bring something along to the party: Whether it's a bottle or two of wine or a pumpkin pie make sure that you bring something along to the party and if at all possible add a little touch of Halloween to your gift! Suggestion: If you bring wine attach a witch to it.
4. Be safe: Halloween is a joyous and frivolous time so please be safe, don't drink and drive and don't assume that just because you are wearing a superman costume that you can fly!
1. Stay visible: use reflective tape or flashing lights. This way every member of your group will remain visible to the dangers of any passing vehicles.
2. Stay together: If the group splits, do not go alone! Make sure that children are accompanied at all times.
3. Use the car. Park your car in a well-lit parking place. Go there regularly to empty the bags. This way the group will move quickly.
4. Designate a Safe Spot: Pick a location and designate it as a safe spot. If anyone becomes separated from your group they should return immediately to the safe spot where you will be able to meet up with them.
When handing out sweets
1. Take care for the safety of those approaching your house: Clear your drive of any debris that may cause accidents and ensure that the path from the street to your front door is well lit. Avoid dangerous decorations, which can start a fire or can cause harm to a child in any way.
2: Prepare the pets: You will have a whole host of ghosts and ghouls coming through you door on Halloween evening so ensure that you make preparations for your pet.
3: Create an atmosphere: Decorate your house and wear a costume as there is nothing better for prospective trick or treaters than getting treats from someone dressed as a: Witch, Devil, Zombie, Werewolf, Hellraiser, Saw, or even Chucky. Wearing a costume will add a touch of fun to the evening for all of those involved.
4. Get interactive: Think about small games or funny questions you can ask the children. They will enjoy it!
5. Don't want to allow trick-or-treating at your house? Whatever your reasons for not wanting trick-or-treaters to visit your house on Halloween the best thing you can do is place a sign on your door that says "No Trick-or-Treating" which will get the message across very effectively.
Happy Haunting From Escapade!