If you’ve watched American movies or TV shows, you will be well aware of Halloween and the hype that surrounds it. Costumes, Jack-o’-lanterns, spooky decorations and of course, trick or treating. Predominantly celebrated in America, Halloween is the second most popular commercial holiday after Christmas. However, its origins have roots in ancient Europe. With time, Halloween has spread across the globe and has even found a small foothold in our own country.
Bars, restaurants and commercial centres often use decorations to ring in this spooky festival. Magazines have built stories around it while makeup artists create horror-inspired looks every year. Read on to know more about this world-famous festival!
How did Halloween begin?
The Halloween that we know today is entirely different from its original story. It dates back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, nearly 2000 years ago. The Celtic region today comprises Ireland, France and the UK. Back then, the Celts used to celebrate November 1 as their new year. This day marked the day of harvest, the end of summer and the beginning of a long, cold winter. The Celts also believed that on New Year’s Eve, the worlds of the living and the dead collided. They celebrated Samhain on the night of October 31 and believed that ghosts of the dead would visit them.
By the 9th century, Christianity had spread to the Celtic region and gradually blended in with many Celtic traditions. In 1000 AD, the Church used to celebrate November 2 as All Souls Day. All Souls Day had celebrations similar to Samhain – big bonfires, parades and costumes of angels, demons and saints. All Saints Day was also known as All-hallows Day and the night before, along with the Celtic Samhain came to be called All-Hallows Eve and over time, Halloween.
How is it celebrated?
To commemorate this night, the Celts built huge bonfires that were considered sacred. People would gather around the fire and offered crops and animals while the priests prayed to Celtic deities. By 43 AD, the Roman Empire had conquered a majority of the Celtic region, and a festival of Roman origin was added to Celtic celebrations. This day was to celebrate Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruitful abundance. Her symbol was the apple, and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain was probably the origin of the tradition of bobbing for apples in today’s Halloween celebrations.
Halloween, as we know it today, was a culmination of centuries of history and culture coming together from all across the world. While it is most widely celebrated in America, several parts of the world imitate the festivities. Modern day Halloween celebrations include dressing up in costumes and going door-to-door trick or treating. Many people prepare their own treats or give out candy. Carving pumpkins take centre-stage and are used to decorate homes. Some neighbourhoods and malls conduct pumpkin carving contests. Many people spend the night watching horror movies or sit around bonfires telling scary stories.
Food during Halloween
While there is no record of particular food being served or consumed during Halloween, the American tradition of trick-or-treating probably hails from the early All Souls Day celebrations in England. During these parades, alms seekers would go door-to-door asking for food, with the promise of praying for the souls of the deceased of the families offering them food in return. The food given was called “soul cakes” a kind of pastry. Since people believed ghosts came back to earth on this day, they used to leave bowls of food outside their doors in an attempt to appease the spirits and prevent them from entering their homes. This tradition is followed even today, where many people leave bowls of candy at their doorstep.
Celebrate Halloween at Feathers
Now that you’ve brushed up on the history and origins of Halloween, you are well in your right to celebrate this festival with vigour! Looking for a spooky party to head to? Check out Vapour at Feathers Hotel. Dress up in your best Halloween get up and have fun admiring the spooky decorations at Vapour. And did we mention there’s no entry charge? Date: 31st October. See you there!
So get your friends together have yourselves a spooktacular Halloween at Feathers! You can also check out our blog on things to do while waiting for the weekend.