Cassandra Jeffery 

Assistant InsideOut Editor

 

For us university students, holiday excitement and anticipation is diminished. We no longer sacrifice sleep for the chance to catch a glimpse of Santa, we don’t tug away at our loose teeth in hopes of a visit from the tooth fairy and we certainly don’t dress up as princesses and goblins, banging on our neighbours doors and begging for candy.

Alas, we have grown up. Most of our festive traditions result in massive hangovers and excessive weight gain from the copious amounts of liquor and food.

Halloween is once again upon us, and that means while students will be desperately searching for last minute, cheap costume ideas and planning for parties, children under 12 will be preparing their most durable pillow case for a night of candy and spooky fun.

Halloween is a night for families to carve pumpkins, decorate their house in cobwebs, light bonfires, watch all the classic horror flicks and dress up in outfits you just can’t wear on any other day of the year.

Canada has a number of Halloween traditions, yet few of us know where these traditions originated. Who were the founders of such a scary holiday, and is Halloween celebrated globally?

With the holiday fast approaching, the InsideOut team has got you covered with everything you need to know on Hallow’s Eve.

Halloween is originally derived from the Celtic festival Samhain, which is held at the end of harvest season in preparation for the winter months. Apparently, the Gaels believed that October 31st marked the overlapping between the world of the dead and the world of the living. On this day, the deceased would come back to life and haunt civilians by damaging crops or causing sickness.

During Samhain, the Gaels would celebrate with large bonfires and would wear ghoulish masks to appease the evil spirits.

With mass immigration of the Irish, Scottish and Welsh in the late 19th to early 20th centuries, traditions in Gaelic culture established themselves in countries such as Canada, England and the United States.

However, a mystery has yet to be solved: How is it that the term ‘Halloween’ was derived from Samhain? Also, where did the tradition of trick-or-treating originate?

Although the tradition of Samhain was established by the pagan, Celtic culture, the name we understand as Halloween stems from ancient Catholic traditions, which celebrated and worshipped the dead.

Halloween refers to the night before All Hallows, also known as All Saints or All Souls day.

Roman Catholics used this holiday to worship Saints in heaven and to pray for the deceased. This was usually celebrated on November first.

The practice of dressing up and begging for candy closely resembles the Medieval tradition of “souling”. Allegedly, poor people went “souling” door to door on Hallow’s Eve, begging for food in return for prayers dedicated to those celebrated on All Souls day.

By the early 20th century, kids would harass shop owners for nuts and candies in return for songs and dancing.

It wasn’t until the late 1930s and early 1940s that children were encouraged to dress up and engage in what we know today as trick-or-treating.

The term “trick-or-treat” essentially means that children would give the option of trick or treat. If no treat was given, they would prank the home owners.

Although now this custom is discouraged, you’ll still get a few who will egg your house if you decide to give out granola bars and apples.

Media influence promoted the custom in some Middle Eastern and European countries.

Today, we tend to become wrapped up in the superficial meanings of holidays.

Halloween is no longer a celebration of souls, but an excuse for children to dress up and get free candy, and for adults to throw a party and get drunk. It’s important, though, that we’re aware of tradition this Halloween.

Wikimedia Commons

Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.