Scary costumes, trick or treat and Jack-O-Lanterns are all representing the Halloween which is celebrated by different countries on the eve of October 31st. Halloween was derived from the words Hallow’s Evening or also known as All Hallows Eve. It was originated and practiced by the western European group called the Celthic Samhain and the festival has been claimed to have possible pagan roots.
The end of summer in Ireland and Scotland is October 31st. This is also the end of their harvest season which they call Samhain (pronounce as sow-anne). In the early days, this date was celebrated with the pagans as the Festival of Harvest and Festival of the Dead.
The Celthic Samhain believed on the superstition that the spirit of the dead will return and look for a body to live in. Because of this belief, people have to wear costumes and make noises around the streets to scare and cast the spirits away. When the Catholic group arrived in Western Europe, they adopted and developed this pagan tradition. One of the practices they did was offering a prayer for the dead people in exchange for a cake.
Here are some of the famous Halloween practices as it is celebrated in different parts of the world.
- Trick or treat
A Halloween practice that is very famous with the children. It is also known as Guising. Children will knock on your door and ask for treats such as sweets. If the homeowner refuses them, they will make fun or any pranks on the house. Trick or treats are celebrated in unique ways in different countries.
Trick or treat started in the 1950’s. People will decorate their house with creepy decorations like skulls, monster figures, spider webs and the famous Jack-O-Lantern. They will leave a candy on a bowl for children who will ask for treats.
Children will sing and make a prayer for the dead relative with an exchange of a cake.
Scotland and Ireland
Trick or treats on this country is practiced by children wearing a creepy costume to disguise themselves. They are carrying a lantern which is made of Irish Turnip. They will ask for food or money by going to door to door in their neighbourhood.
Korean celebrates Halloween during the month of August. They visit their dead relatives and offer food.
Japanese people celebrate Halloween during July/August. They called it Obon Festival. They put red lanterns in their houses because they believe that the light will direct the spirits to the house of their families.
Halloween is celebrated during Oct 31’st.They burn pictures of fruits and money because they believe that this will help and bring comfort to the spirits. Their Halloween is called Yue Lan or also known as the Festival of Hungry Ghosts.
Teng Chieh or Halloween is celebrated in unique ways. People visit their Buddhist Temple and make paper boat that represents the spirit of the dead. They believe that it will free the restless spirits or Pretas who died in tragedy and reincarnated to creepy creatures. Monks will make an incantation to free the spirits.
This is a carved pumpkin that is usually used as decoration during Halloween. It was a myth that originated in Ireland. The story is about a man named Stingy Jack who invited the devil for a drink. Jack refused to pay for the drinks and commanded the devil to transform into a coin. The devil followed him but Jack kept him on his pocket together with a silver cross for him not to return to his original form. He then set the devil free with a condition not to bother him for a year or even get his soul to enter hell when he dies. Again, Jack fooled the devil. He asked him to climb a tree to get a fruit not knowing that Jack marked a cross on the tree’s trunk. When Jack died, God did not allow him to enter the heaven. The devil did not claim his spirit instead he put him in the dark with a burning coal to light his way. Ever since, Jack is still on earth roaming around. The Irish people called his ghost as Jack of the Lantern.
- Costume Party
Costume party for American English and Fancy dress party for the British English are part of western culture. It is a party where guest wear different spooky costumes. This type of party is also popular in Australia and United States. Some of the favourite themes are:
Monster theme – guests wear fangs, blood, fur or even mask.
Haunted theme– guests wear a werewolf, vampire or Dracula’s costume.
Fright Night – This is a 20’s to 80’s theme where guests wear neon’s, animal prints, and tights with scary accessories.
- Apple bobbing
This is a Halloween game that is played by children. They will put water in a big basin. An apple is placed on the water to float. They will try to pick the apple by the use of their teeth. Hands are tied at the back. This kind of game is very famous in Scotland and is called Dooking. In Ireland it is called as Snap Apple Night.