Well today is Saturday, October 31st, 2015 and its Halloween in America…The spirit of Halloween is celebrated in many countries, I was surprised to learn, I thought it was mostly an American custom…Here in America, it has traditionally become a night for the kids, especially the little kids, 12 and under, for them to dress up and go out trick or treating and return home with bags full of candy…The little kids look really cute in their various costumes, a lot of them dressed as familiar and popular current TV show characters each year, with the ever present staple of princesses, ghosts, witches and scary monsters….They are so innocent and trusting, and they get very amped up from the excitement even before the inevitable sugar rush hits them….
The adults shepherd them around the various neighborhoods very carefully, looking for houses with carved pumpkins or scary Halloween themes to indicate the residents are into the holidays…This used to be such an innocent, care free night, but ever since some sick psychos started sticking razor blades in apples or drugs in the candy, I think this BS started back in the 1980’s, many parents dump out the whole bag of trick or treat presents into the trash when they get home, and instead give their kids candy they have either bought themselves or been given to by a close friend or neighbor they trust….Better safe than sorry….But don’t let that dampen the mood, enjoy!
In Mexico, Halloween is known as “Las Dias de Muertos” or “Day of the Dead” although despite the sinister sounding translation, they party too…It is a celebration for the dearly departed who have never (and will never) really left our lives, they live on in our memories of them…It is a centuries old tradition, for thousands of years, that the early Spanish conquistadors thought was a mocking of the dead, but in reality was an affirmation of life and living…The holiday in Mexico is ultimately about gathering with friends and family to honor the love and lives of those who have passed on…..
It’s all about fun these day, although the origins of Halloween are a lot more sobering …. A brief review of the origins of Halloween celebrations from channel 7 ABC in San Francisco includes the recent following information:
United States and Canada
“Those living in the United States and Canada go all out celebrating Halloween each year, with people dressing up in costume, carving jack-o’-lanterns, and throwing parties to commemorate the holiday. But these U.S. and Canadian celebrations actually have their roots in Samhain, the Gaelic festival marking the end of of the harvest celebrated in Celtic countries like Ireland, Wales and Scotland.
Dressing up in costume for Halloween became a custom in Ireland in the late 19th century, and it was adopted by the U.S. in the early 20th century. Trick-or-treating dates back to when young people in Ireland and Scotland would dress up in costume and visit homes. During these visits, people would perform some sort of “trick” like singing a song, reciting a poem or telling a joke, which would then be rewarded by a “treat” like food, nuts or coins. Jack-o’-lanterns are also believed to be a Halloween tradition started by the Irish and Scottish in the 19th century, with some believing the lanterns served as a way to protect their homes from the dead.
In France and the U.K., people partake in Halloween traditions similar to the U.S., with costumes, parties, and houses decorated for the holiday.” (Personally, I love the way some people go all out to decorate their houses, to let everyone know they are sharing and participating in the Halloween tradition to the max! Especially right here in the USA!”
“When Halloween approaches each year, Austrians will typically leave bread and water next to a lamp that stays on during the night. This is done to welcome the dead souls so that they could come back to earth. This holiday, known as All Souls’, is celebrated between October 30 and November 8.
If you’re spending Halloween in Germany, you may notice a lack of knives around homes. This is because Germans hide their knives on Halloween night in order not to injure returning spirits.
One thing that unites many European countries though for Halloween celebrations is All Saints’ Day on November 1I…
When Halloween approaches each year, Austrians will typically leave bread and water next to a lamp that stays on during the night. This is done to welcome the dead souls so that they could come back to earth. This holiday, known as All Souls’, is celebrated between October 30 and November 8.”
A lot of older, well at least 20 and 30 somethings grown people attend Halloween parties, especially here in San Francisco, where they skip the candy and get right down to the socializing part, and this can be fun too if that is your cup of tea….There are also a wide variety of official tours of haunted houses, pub crawls like on Union street, Valencia street, Van Ness avenue and all over the SOMA district….Many of these are family oriented, and all of them are scary, or spooktacular, as it were….
I was unaware of the darker meaning of Halloween until I read a blog on Ed Mooney Photography about the Celtic Irish origins of Halloween, including the scary story of the Dullaheen, or Headless Horseman, like in the Washington Irving classic tale….They are dark faeries or ghosts that serve no master but death, and who if they recite your name, you are a goner…
Or the Irish legend of the Puca, the horse with red eyes that “One common description tells of them appearing in the form of a wild black colt with heavy chains around their neck, they were said to do harm to unwary travelers.” For some stunning photographs of Irish ruins and recounting in depth of Celtic/Irish legends, I would strongly recommend Ed Mooney Photography… (see credits)…
But as an average American, I still will always think of Halloween as a relatively benign holiday, about and for the kids mostly…It is just one of our great American traditions that has endured for years, and it is a fun and joyful day for most, no matter the murky, shrouded past it came from….For me, the enduring image of Halloween will be the innocent, joyful faces of the children as they parade around their home towns trick and treating in their various scary, delightful costumes…Halloween in America today is all about the kids, as it should be….And oh, don’t let them (or you) over do the candy and refreshments…
So parents, be careful, safe and sane and I sincerely hope you and Your kids have or already have enjoyed a great traditional Halloween celebration!….
For more information on Celtic Irish legends and stunning photography, see edmooneyphotography at: https://edmooneyphoto.wordpress.com/category/legends/
For more information on Halloween Celebrations and Similar traditions just Google abc7news.com
For more blogs by John Whye, see http://www.johnwhye.com