As October progresses to merge its mellow chills with the shivering nights of November in the west, primarily in the UK and Ireland, people all around the globe prepare themselves to be a part of the collective metaphorical tradition where the line is dividing fiction and reality turns blur. Yes! You guessed it right, it is indeed Halloween, which owing to its uniqueness has seeped in all parts of the world. But do you know this childish-fancy tradition does have a long drawn clerical history?
The history of Halloween can be traced back to nearly 2000 years ago, when the Celts living primarily in the regions surrounding modern-day Ireland and some parts of France and the UK celebrate Halloween’s parent tradition, namely, ‘Samhain’. Essentially, Celts celebrated their New Year every year on November 1st that potentially marked the beginning of the dark and harsh western winters, linked with death.
Moreover, on New Year’s eve, they believed it was the time when the separation between the world of the dead and the living ceased to exist. Thus they celebrated Samhain when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to Earth. The celebration was however quite questionable because they organized large bonfires to burn down some amount of the harvested crops and alive animals, which they believed was a means to please the Celtic deities.
Later when the Celtic region was conquered by the Roman Empire, there occurred a mix-match and overlap of certain traditions and thus Halloween was shaped, somewhat as we know it today. Withstanding the interaction of the English migrants and Indian Americans, an Americanised Halloween was produced and began to lose its restriction within the English land. The initial celebrations included “play parties,” which were public events held to celebrate the harvest. By the second half of the 19th century, Halloween became widespread in the entire American continent.
However, back then it was much more of a solemn occasion when people remembered the departed souls and saints (hallows) and it was only in the later 20th century that Halloween became synonymous with cosplay, dressing up, pop culture, eerie imitations, and candies.
Presently, Americans spend nearly $6 billion every year on Halloween, making it count as the country’s second-largest commercial holiday after Christmas. It has transformed into a public holiday when neighbours and relatives organize a meet and take a break from their busy lives.
Halloween has always been full of mystery and enigma or the ordinary and it would not be incorrect to state that there do exist certain superstitions which are followed on this day, the foremost being avoiding the path where black cats are sighted, who allegedly is believed to be a symbol of witchcraft. Surprisingly, Halloween also becomes the facilitator of marriages where young men and women meet during celebrations and find each other perfect for themselves.
Today, Halloween is celebrated on October 31st every year. While the metaphorical representation of erstwhile beliefs ceases to exist in prominence today, dresses, pranks, and spooky themed house parties have taken over clerical traditions. People are hardly aware of the significance of this day and merely view it as a horror-themed western nuance. This is evolution. This is change. And change is inevitable.
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