Halloween - what is that actually?
Halloween - the festival where people dress up in scary costumes and go from house to house wearing scary masks, saying "Trick or treat!"
What does Halloween really mean?
The word "Halloween" means "All Hallows Eve."
In the Middle Ages, the pagan tradition was Christianized: Pope Gregory IV set November 1 as All Saints' Day in 837. Now Christians could also celebrate the pagan festival of Samhain without sinning.
Where does Halloween come from?
Halloween originally comes from Ireland and was a very popular celebration, especially among Catholics.
Why is Halloween celebrated on October 31?
In pre-Christian times, the Celts celebrated Samhain, one of their most important festivals, on October 31.
They celebrated their harvest, the beginning of the cold season and the start of a new calendar year.
The Celts also believed that on this day there could be contacts in the realm of the dead.
They believed that on this evening the "border between the worlds" was open and the dead came back to earth to visit their relatives. With lights they showed the way to the spirits of the deceased.
Samhain: The dead are on the way
According to mythology, on Samhain the dead set out in search of the living to die the next year.
To scare off evil spirits, people dressed up in scary costumes and haunted the streets even at night.
Big fires were supposed to keep evil spirits away. Small gifts ("treats") were placed in front of the houses to appease the spirits and keep them from committing misdeeds.
How Halloween came to America?
Many Irish emigrated to the USA and celebrated their usual festival there as well and that's how it became known in the USA.
What is typical for Halloween?
Not only the dressing up is especially typical for Halloween, but also the setting up of pumpkins. They are usually hollowed out and carved with scary grimaces carved into the pumpkin to scare off monsters, dead people and other creepy creatures on the night of Halloween.
To trace the origin of the pumpkin custom, we return to early Ireland.
One tale says that a villain named Jack made a pact with the devil, but betrayed him in the process.
After Jack's death, he went neither to heaven nor to hell, because even the devil didn't want him there. And in order for the wandering Jack to find his way in the darkness, the devil gave him glowing, luminous coals and a turnip.
The lore very likely made the turnip into a pumpkin that lit up from the inside.
Since then, this glowing pumpkin is also fondly called "Jack O'Lantern" and is placed mainly on patios and porches.
Other well-known features of Halloween are witch hats as well as witch brooms, spiders and cobwebs, bats, vampire fangs, blood, crypts, skulls, black cats, dark colors like black and blood red, but also orange.
How is Halloween celebrated?
Halloween is not only celebrated by adults, especially children and teenagers have taken a liking to it. Once a year, Halloween fans dress up and transform into bloodthirsty and creepy creatures.
One particularly popular custom is "trick or treating." The custom consists of dressed-up children and teenagers going from house to house in the neighborhood begging for candy.
The saying "Trick or treat!" is usually heard. If the children don't get any candy from their neighbor, the neighbor has to expect a prank from the children.
One of the most widespread and popular Halloween customs is the transformation into mostly scary characters. Whether witch, vampire or ghost, devil or zombie: there are no limits to the imagination when it comes to disguises. Not only children love to dress up. Many adults have fun every year anew to transform themselves on Halloween.
Where is Halloween particularly celebrated in the USA?
Halloween is celebrated particularly extensively every year in the US city of Salem near Boston. Salem has the nickname "Witch Town" and knows how to use it. The Haunted Happenings, a kind of Halloween festival for the whole family, take place every year throughout October.