Halloween has its roots in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. This was celebrated to mark the end of summer and the sun god Pugh’s death. Most of Halloween customs come from this period. The holiday is also known as All Hallows’ Eve where ‘hallow’ means ‘saints’. Halloween is celebrated on 31st of October, the day before All Saint’s Day which is the day commemorating all saints.
Some popular Halloween traditions are Jack-o’-Lanterns, Mischief Night, Trick or Treat etc. The main colors of Halloween are black and orange. One common tradition in Ireland is to light bonfires on the 31st of October.
During Celtic times, people used to light fires for scaring away evil spirits. They dressed in animal skins which later transformed into the tradition of wearing costumes. Celts also believed that black cats were their dead relatives and hence Halloween is also associated with black cats.
Types of Halloween tradition
One of the popular Halloween traditions are Jack o’ lanterns. This tradition can be traced back to an 18th century Irish folk tale. People carve Halloween pumpkins or turnips in the shape of a frightening face. Then they illuminate the pumpkin with a candle inside. The tradition is based on a tale where Jack cheats the devil when he was prevented from entering heaven or hell by the devil after he dies. He was forced to wander around the earth but the devil taking pity on him gave him a piece of coal. Jack put the coal in a hollowed out turnip to light his way.
Trick-or-treating is another popular tradition of Halloween. This tradition is quite popular in America. This tradition goes back to England to the early All Souls’ Day parades. In the time of festivities, when poor people begged for food, they were given pastries known as ‘soul cakes’. This practice was also known as ‘going a-souling’ and was later taken up by children. They used to visit the house and were given money, food and ale.
Dressing in a spooky costume is another of the Halloween traditions. This has both Celtic and European roots. During Halloween, it was believed that ghosts returned to earthly dominion. So people believed they would encounter ghosts outside their homes. Therefore to avoid getting seen by ghosts they wore masks outside after dark so ghosts would think they were fellow spirits. The costumes are designed in traditional scary themes like ghosts, witches, devils, vampires etc.
Some people keep bowls of food outside their house to satisfy the ghosts and prevent them from entering their houses.