All You Need to Know to Fully Appreciate Spooky Season

         Spooky season is upon us and even if you aren’t an avid fan like some people, you should know the basics in order to fully appreciate the season in all its glory. Here are some facts about how this season came to be, and how everyone celebrates it.

 

History

         Halloween dates all the way back to over 2,000 years ago. The Celts, who lived-in present-day Ireland, the United Kingdom, and France, celebrated their new year on November first. They believed that on the night before the new year, October 31st, the line between life and death was blurred and the spirits of the dead were able to return to Earth for one night. On this night, the Celts would celebrate Samhain (sow-in) by lighting bonfires and burning crops and animals for sacrifices. In addition, the Celts would dress up in costumes consisting of animal heads and skins and attempt to read and tell each other’s fortunes. 

 

Evolution

         By the ninth century, the influence of Christianity had spread to Celtic lands and began to alter and blend with Celtic rites and rituals. The church designated November 2nd as All Souls’ Day to honor the dead. It was believed that the church was attempting to replace the original Celtic holiday of Samhain with a day of honoring instead of self-protection and new year festivities. All Saints' Day became known as the day to end the All Martyrs Day festival that spanned from May 31st until November 1st. It later became known as all Hallows Eve, then Halloween. Today the days of Halloween span over four nights. October 30th as mischief night (which not all cultures celebrate), October 31st as Halloween, November 1st as All Saints' Day, and November 2nd as All Souls' Day. Some cultures celebrate days that others do not, and many cultures have their own way of celebrating the spooky holiday. 

 

Celebration Across the Globe 

         Ireland/Scotland: Having the title of ‘the birthplace of Halloween,’ Ireland and Scotland still celebrate in ways similar to Samhain. They build bonfires, play games, eat traditional foods, and continue to practice the art of fortune telling.

 

            Mexico: Mexico and parts of Latin America celebrate Day of the Dead. They spend 3 days honoring those who have passed away. The Gates of Heaven open up at midnight on October 31st and the souls of children return to their families for 24 hours. On November 2nd, the souls of adults then return to earth for 24 hours to join the festivities. Families of the deceased make altars for those that have passed full of things such as foods, wines, toys for the children, and cigarettes for the adults.

  

 

            Romania: Romania celebrates Day of Dracula as people from all over the world travel to visit Draculas’ castle. The legend of Dracula is based off of Vlad The Impaler, a Romanian ruler with a thirst for blood. Though there is a long-standing debate over whether Bran Castle was actually Vlad’s or if he even visited the site, millions come for tours and parties in the castle to celebrate Halloween. 

 

            India: for 16 days the people of India will celebrate Pitru Paksha. In Hinduism it is believed that when a person dies, Yama - the god of death - will take a person’s soul to purgatory to meet the last 3 generations of their family. During Pitru Paksha, the souls return to Earth to visit their families. Families must perform a fire ritual in order to ensure their families' place in the afterlife, else they will spend eternity roaming the Earth.

 

            Poland: Halloween comes a bit later in the year for Poland. In early November people will travel around to cemeteries to visit their family’s graves. They will leave candles, flowers, and prayers for the departed. The next day, people will attend a requiem mass to honor the souls of the dead.

 

            Greece: The Greeks don’t specifically celebrate Halloween. Instead, they celebrate Apokries. Many traditions are similar to that of the western culture Halloween, including dressing up, offering candy to children, and pulling a few friendly pranks on your neighbors. However for Greece, this holiday lasts for 3 weeks in February before Lent. These weeks are filled with festivals and hundreds of people dressing up and roaming the streets. The second week of celebration is known as “meat week,” when meat is eaten every day of the week.

 

GreekBoston.com: All About the Greek Mardi Gras (Apokries)

Now you know the origin, evolution, and different celebrations of Halloween and you can fully immerse yourself in all things spooky. How do you celebrate the spooky season? How long do you celebrate? Every culture has their own ways of honoring the dead, or just making things a little creepier for a few nights. Will you try out any of these traditions for yourself? 

HCXO, Katie

All images courtesy of Google Images