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۱۳۹۲ آبان ۱۹, یکشنبه

Halloween

The celebration of All Saints Day or just Halloween takes place on October 31st. The tradition of Halloween began in the fifth century B.C. This day the Irish Celts celebrated their New Year at that time, because they organized their year according to the agricultural calendar and marked the transition from one year to the next on October 31.

In the year 835 A.D. the Roman Catholic Church made November 1st a church holiday to honour all the saints. This day is called All Saint's Day. Since that time many years have passed. Some traditions are gone, new traditions appeared. I am going to tell you about the most popular customs of Halloween. The most known custom is the tradition of dressing.

The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. Hundreds of years ago, winter was an uncertain and frightening time. Food supplies often ran low and, many people afraid of the dark, the short days of winter were full of constant worry. On Halloween, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. On Halloween, people placed bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter their home.

Fire has always played an important part in Halloween. Fire was very important to the Celts as it was to all early people. In the old days people lit bonfires to ward away evil spirits and in some places they used to j ump over the fire to bring good luck. Today, we light candles in pumpkin and then put them outside our homes to ward of evil spirits.
Another tradition is Apple Bobbing. It has the roman origins. The Roman festival for remembering the dead was also in October. During this time, the Romans remembered their goddess, Pomona. She was the goddess of the trees and fruits, and when the Romans came to Britain, they began to hold these two festivals on the same day as Samhain. Apples probably became associated with Halloween because of this festival. Some people believe that, if you slice an apple through the equator (to reveal the five-pointed star within) and then eat it by candlelight before a-mirror, your future spouse will appear over your shoulder.

Trick or Treat was first known as Mischief Night. Halloween was a time for making mischief — many parts of England still recognize this date as Mischief Night — when children would knock on doors demanding a treat (Trick or Treat) and people would disguise themselves as witches or ghosts, in order to obtain food and money from nervous householders.
Halloween was sometimes called Nut Crack Night or Snap Apple Night in England. Families would sit by the fire and tell stories while they ate apples and nuts.

Halloween Symbols

The calendar flips to October, the leaves begin to change their color and suddenly the decorations for Halloween begin to go up. Even if someone had no idea what Halloween was, they would know it was coming up and be able to gauge from the Halloween symbols that it is a spooky holiday. Certain things have come to represent Halloween either because of tradition and legend or just due to their connection to the macabre.

Individual Halloween Symbols

Some popular Halloween symbols include witches, ghosts, spiders, bats, vampires, skeletons, graves, jack-o’-lanterns, black cats and monsters. With a holiday that dates back to the Celts and the Druids, it is bound to have picked up some stories and traditions along the way. Though many things that have become symbolic to the holiday because of rituals related to the day, some just tie in to the spooky element.
Jack-’o’-Lanterns – This has become one of many popular Halloween symbols as well as rituals and traditions. The jack-o’-lantern has become a great representation of Halloween since families often come together to choose their pumpkins as well as prepare them for the final look. Yet few know the supposed Irish folklore origin of this carved pumpkin.

It basically has to do with a stingy man named Jack who tricked the Devil not once but twice in order to prevent the Devil from taking his soul. After Jack’s death Heaven refused him and Hell couldn’t take him because of the agreement. The Devil sent Jack on his way back to where he came from with only an ever-burning ember from the flames of hell to light his way. Needing something to carry this hot coal in, Jack found a turnip and carved himself a lantern. Irish immigrants quickly discovered pumpkins and thought that would make a much better candle holder to carry on their tradition than a turnip.

Witches – These familiar Halloween symbols pop up everywhere for the season, from decorations to greeting cards to Halloween costume parties, and for good reason. Witches have been around for eons and were often thought to have mystical powers, partly because of their connection to Satan or the spirit world. Their most notorious gatherings were thought to happen during the two major season changes on April 30 and, of course, October 31.
Spells would be cast, witches brews boiled, and these creatures would often change their shape during the witchcraft meetings. They flew on broomsticks, gathered around cauldrons, made potions involving toads and kept black cats as pets, leading to all of these items or images to become Halloween symbols as well.

Bats – While actually not vicious, evil or terrifying at all, bats have become a familiar symbol tied to Halloween. Much of this is to blame on vampire bats, who do suck blood, but just enough for survival without usually killing another animal, such as a cow. Since most vampire tales claim that these mythological creatures transform into bats for flight and to enter places with greater ease, bats have become a symbol of evil and all things ghoulish.

Bats have also been linked to witches, either flying about from their caves while witches perform their ritualistic ceremonies or for actually becoming part of a witch’s brew. Bat wings, blood and other parts have been famous for being part of the recipes for witch’s spells or options to give themselves the ability to fly, along with other not-so-nice things.
Spiders – These arachnids have become part of Halloween imagery because of their connections to witches as well as abandoned haunted houses. Witches were thought to invite spiders into their homes as pets, companions or for use in potions. They are often affiliated with the extra creepiness one might find in the overhead corners of dilapidated houses of haunts or horrors. Not to mention, the stories tied to writing spiders. It is thought that if a writing spider spins your name in its web, you are destined for death in the near future.

Death and the Celts – It would be impossible to list each one of the many Halloween symbols, as well as their meaning. Consider that many things that can be a representation of the old Celtic festivity known as Samhain, the original Halloween, or death conjures up holiday themes. Halloween costumes, for example, have been used since the first Samhains though the original disguises were animal skins.

The connection to death also brings to mind plenty of images, especially skeletons and ghosts. Anything that could be considered spooky and relate to death, including graves and cemeteries, are bound to be perfect subject matter for creating Halloween symbols.

Sources:

  • www.alleng.ru/engl-top/479.htm
  • www.halloween.com/all-about-halloween
Done by: Antonina
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See also

Halloween’s Real Horror? Its High Cost!

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