Costume-clad kids, bags of candy and jack-o’-lanterns are some indelible images associated with Halloween. Those images may forever be linked to this beloved, fun-filled holiday, which boasts a rich history that varies depending on where in the world you might be.
Celebrations around the world may not mirror those in Canada and the United States, where trick-or-treating youngsters travel from house to house in search of candy. But true Halloween enthusiasts may be interested to learn the history of the holiday and how it has changed over the centuries.
El Dia de los Muertos
In parts of Mexico and Latin America, El Dia de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) is celebrated each year in early November. The day is designed to honor the dead, who Day of the Dead celebrants believe return to their earthly homes each Halloween. Families may burn candles and incense in an effort to help their deceased relatives and ancestors find their way home.
Guy Fawkes Day
For many years, England had reason to celebrate around October 31, but those celebrations did not mirror the Halloween festivities familiar to those across the pond. While recent years have witnessed more and more Brits adopting the Americanized celebration of Halloween, for many the true holiday this time of year will always be Guy Fawkes Day. Celebrated on November 5, Guy Fawkes Day is a commemoration of the foiled Gunpowder Plot. Smithsonian notes that this was a failed attempt by disgruntled Catholics to blow up the British Parliament building while King James I was inside. Fireworks, parades and bonfires marked Guy Fawkes Day celebrations, which in recent years have gradually begun to transform into something that more closely resembles North American Halloween.
History.com notes that Halloween can trace its origins to Ireland. But those origins did not involve giggling youngsters carrying plastic pumpkins around in search of candy. Halloween’s origins can be traced to the Celtic festival of Samhain. Samhain was considered the Celtic New Year and was sacred to the ancient Irish. The festival was celebrated as the days became shorter, and offerings were left for the dead, who celebrants believed could cross over into the land of the living at this time. However, they also believed demonic spirits could follow such a path during Samhain, giving the festival the taste of the macabre that many still enjoy imparting on their Halloween celebrations today.
Halloween has a rich and interesting history that gals and ghouls from all walks of life might find interesting.