Hello everyone 🙂
Halloween has arrived and whilst its not in my top 3 of favourite holidays, I would be a liar if I said I didn’t like eating a load of candy and watching Halloween movies from the likes of “Hocus Pocus” to “Scream”. Many countries celebrate Halloween differently and I thought It might be insightful to share with you the different ways they each celebrate it.
Ireland – Where it All Started:
Halloween is thought to have been inspired from the ancient Celtic ritual of Samhain, where it was believed that on the 1st of Nov, the dead returned to the land of the living. Today, Ireland celebrates Halloween much like the United States with the usual trick-or-treating, apple bobbing, dressing up and treasure hunts. The concept of Jack o’ lantern is based on an Irish folklore, and is said to represent dead souls who don’t get entry in either heaven or hell.
United States of America:
Halloween is a big thing in America! The modern imagery of Halloween comes from different sources like Gothic literatures, classic horror movies, etc. People usually wear costumes modelled after scary supernatural figures but its not uncommon to dress up as superheroes or movie stars either, nowadays people have become a lot more creative when it comes to their costumes. Children usually dress up in their chosen costumes and go door-to-door for the trick-or-treating. People usually stock up on candies to give away to them. Other traditions include apple bobbing, picking and carving pumpkins and haunted houses.
Spain and Latin America:
Halloween is celebrated as “El Dia de los Muertos” (the day of the dead). This is a 3-day celebration commencing from the evening of 31 October till 2 November. This is practiced to remember and honour the dead and celebrate the continuity of life. Many families construct an altar in their home and decorate it with flowers, photographs, and samples of the deceased’s favourite foods and drinks. On 2 November, relatives usually gather at the grave-sites to picnic and reminisce their lost loved ones.
China celebrates a similar festival known as the “Feast of the Hungry Ghost”. Food and water are placed in front of photographs of deceased family members and bonfires and lanterns are lit up in order to show the path to the spirits as they travel the earth on Halloween night to meet their living families. Worshippers in Buddhist temples fashion “boats of the law” from paper, some of which are very large, which are then burned in the evening hours. The purpose of this custom is twofold: as a remembrance of the dead and in order to free the spirits of the “pretas” in order that they might ascend to heaven.
In some rural areas, turnip lanterns were placed on gateposts to protect homes from the spirits who roamed on Halloween night. Another custom was to toss objects such as stones, vegetables and nuts into a bonfire to frighten away the spirits. These symbolic sacrifices were also employed as fortune-telling tools. For the most part however, the English ceased celebrating Halloween with the spread of Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation. However, in recent years, the American “trick or treating” custom, together with the donning of costumes for going door-to-door, has become a relatively popular pastime among English children at Halloween.
The Halloween celebration in Hong Kong is known as “Yue Lan” (Festival of the Hungry Ghosts) and is a time when it is believed that spirits roam the world for twenty-four hours. Some people burn pictures of fruit or money at this time, believing these images would reach the spirit world and bring comfort to the ghosts.
Halloween is considered more of a solemn holiday on which some people used to believe that if they left bread, water and a lighted lamp on the table before retiring on Halloween night and going to bed, to honour family members, friends who have passed away and the dead souls coming back to earth on that night are welcomed to be brimming with strong magical cosmic energies and this made the dead souls’ return for a night much easier.
These traditions were interesting to learn about, my personal favourite is china lighting lanterns and releasing them up to the sky!
I hope everyone enjoys the rest of their week and has a good but safe Halloween 🙂