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Monday, October 12, 2015

Halloween Around the World, the History of Halloween

Halloween Around The World
(Video Below)
Halloween, or Hallowe'en (a contraction of "All Hallows' Evening"), is also known as Allhalloween, All Hallows' Eve, or All Saints' Eve is one of the world’s oldest holidays, and is still celebrated today around the world.
Halloween is a yearly celebration observed in many countries on the 31st of October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows' Day. It initiates the three-day religious observance of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed believers. Within Allhallowtide, the traditional focus of All Hallows' Eve revolves around the theme of using "humor and ridicule to confront the power of death."
In Mexico and other Latin American countries, Día de los Muertos—the Day of the Dead—honors deceased loved ones and ancestors. All Souls’ Day, which takes place on November 2, is commemorated with a three-day celebration that begins on the evening of October 31. The celebration is designed to honor the dead who, it is believed, return to their earthly homes on Halloween. Many families construct an altar to the dead in their homes to honor deceased relatives and decorate it with candy, flowers, photographs, samples of the deceased’s favorite foods and drinks, and fresh water. Often, a wash basin and towel are left out so that the spirit can wash before indulging in the feast.
In countries such as Ireland, Canada and the United States, adults and children alike revel in the very popular Halloween holiday, which is derived from ancient festivals and religious rituals. Traditions include costume parties, trick-or-treating, pranks and games. In Ireland, where Halloween originated, the day is still celebrated much as it is in the United States. In rural areas, bonfires are lit as they were in the days of the Celts, and all over the country, children get dressed up in costumes and spend the evening “trick-or-treating” in their neighborhoods.

A traditional food eaten on Halloween is barnbrack, a kind of fruitcake that can be bought in stores or baked at home. A muslin-wrapped treat is baked inside the cake that, it is said, can foretell the eater’s future. If a ring is found, it means that the person will soon be wed; a piece of straw means that a prosperous year is on its way. Children are also known to play tricks on their neighbors, such as “knock-a-dolly,” a prank in which children knock on the doors of their neighbors, but run away before the door is opened.
According to many scholars, All Hallows' Eve is a Christianized feast initially influenced by Celtic harvest festivals, with possible pagan roots, particularly the Gaelic Samhain. Other scholars maintain that it originated independently of Samhain and has solely Christian roots.
Today's Halloween customs are thought to have been influenced by folk customs and beliefs from the Celtic-speaking countries, some of which have pagan roots, and others which may be rooted in Celtic Christianity. Historian Nicholas Rogers, exploring the origins of Halloween, notes that while "some folklorists have detected its origins in the Roman feast of Pomona, the goddess of fruits and seeds, or in the festival of the dead called Parentalia, it is more typically linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain", which comes from the Old Irish for "summer's end".[ Samhain (pronounced SAH-win or SOW-in) was the first and most important of the four quarter days in the medieval Gaelic calendar and was celebrated in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. It was held on or about 31 October – 1 November. Samhain and Calan Gaeaf are mentioned in some of the earliest Irish and Welsh literature. The names have been used by historians to refer to Celtic Halloween customs up until the 19th century, and are still the Gaelic and Welsh names for Halloween.
During the early modern era in Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man and Wales, the festival included mumming and guising, the latter of which goes back at least as far as the 16th century. This involved people going house-to-house in costume, usually reciting verses or songs in exchange for food. It may have come from the Christian custom of souling, or it may have a Gaelic folk origin, with the costumes being a means of imitating, or disguising oneself from, the Aos Sí (Comparable to the fairies or elves. They are said to live underground in fairy mounds, across the western sea, or in an invisible world that coexists with the world of humans). In Scotland, youths went house-to-house on 31 October with masked, painted or blackened faces, often threatening to do mischief if they were not welcomed.

In England
On the evening of November 5, bonfires are lit throughout England. Effigies are burned and fireworks are set off. Although it falls around the same time and has some similar traditions, this celebration has little to do with Halloween or the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The English, for the most part, stopped celebrating Halloween as Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation began to spread. As followers of the new religion did not believe in saints, they had no reason to celebrate the eve of All Saints’ Day. However, a new autumn ritual did emerge. Guy Fawkes Day festivities were designed to commemorate the execution of a notorious English traitor, Guy Fawkes.
On November 5, 1606, Fawkes was executed after being convicted of attempting to blow up England’s parliament building. Fawkes was a member of a Catholic group who wanted to remove the Protestant King James from power. The original Guy Fawkes Day was celebrated right after his execution. The first bonfires, which were called “bone fires,” were set up to burn effigies and symbolic “bones” of the Catholic pope. It was not until two centuries later that effigies of the pope were replaced with those of Guy Fawkes. In addition to making effigies to be burned in the fires, children in some parts of England also walk the streets carrying an effigy or “guy” and ask for “a penny for the guy,” although they keep the money for themselves. This is as close to the American practice of “trick-or-treating” as can be found in England today. Guy Fawkes Day was even celebrated by the pilgrims at the first settlement at Plymouth. However, as the young nation began to develop its own history, Guy Fawkes was celebrated less frequently and eventually died out.

China
Mainland China has been less influenced by Anglo traditions than Hong Kong and Halloween is generally considered "foreign." As Halloween has become more popular globally it has also become more popular in China, however, particularly amongst children attending private or international schools with many foreign teachers.

Japan
Halloween arrived only recently in Japan, mainly in the context of American pop culture. Western-style Halloween decorations such as jack-o'-lanterns can be seen in many locations, and places such as Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan put on special Halloween events.

Philippines
In Philippines, Halloween is celebrated as All Saints Day 1 November, immediately followed by All Souls day (Araw ng Patay) on 2 November.

Singapore
Singapore Chinese celebrates "Zhong Yuan Jie / Yu Lan Jie" (Hungry Ghosts Festival, some sort of Chinese Halloween) during lunar seventh month. It is believed that the gates of hell are opened and the spirits come back to visit their families.

Australia and New Zealand
While not traditionally a part of Australian culture, non-religious celebrations of Halloween modeled on North American festivities are growing in momentum in Australia, in spite of seasonal differences and the transition from spring to summer. Criticism stems largely from the fact that Halloween has little relevance to Australian culture. It is also considered, by some Australians, to be an unwanted American influence; although Halloween does have Celtic/European origins, its increasing popularity in Australia is largely as a result of American pop-culture influence.

Bosnia and Herzegovina
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, vignesh Halloween was not celebrated until recently. For the past few years, it has been popular among younger generations. Halloween is a work day in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since wearing masks has become highly popular among children and teenagers, e.g. in many Bosnian schools, both elementary as well as high schools (gymnasiums and vocational), students will usually wear costumes and masks on Halloween. There it is called Noc vještica (English translation: Night of Witches).

Germany
Halloween was not generally observed in Germany prior to the 1990s, in part due to the opposition of the Lutheran Church. It has been increasing in popularity, however, with a fifth of Germans now telling pollsters they celebrate Halloween. Halloween has been associated with the influence of U.S. culture, and "Trick or Treating" (in German,"Süßes oder Saures") has been occurring in some areas such as the Dahlem neighborhood in Berlin, which was part of the American zone during the Cold War. Complaints of vandalism associated with Halloween "Tricks" are increasing, particular from many elderly Germans unfamiliar with "Trick or Treating.
Romania Halloween in Romania is celebrated around the myth of "Dracula" on 31 October.[citation needed] The spirit of Dracula is believed to live there because the town was the site of many witch trials; these are recreated today by actors on the night of Halloween. The most successful Halloween Party in Transylvania takes place in Sighisoara, the citadel where Vlad the Impaler (Dracula) was born. The prestigious Fodor's travel guide placed Halloween in Transylvania on a list of Top Ten Must-Do-Adventures.
Sardinia In the town of Gadoni on 2 November, torches made of sheafs of asphodel stems 2–4 m (7–13 ft) long, are brought through the streets of the town by the young people at dusk.[citation needed] The meaning of this ritual is to accompany the wandering souls and spirits far from the town.[citation needed] Out of the windows are put sas Concas de Mortu (Head of the deads), carved pumpkins that look like skulls, with candles inside.
Switzerland In Switzerland, Halloween, after first becoming popular in 1999 is on the wane. Switzerland already has a "festival overload" and even though Swiss people like to dress up for any occasion, they do prefer a traditional element, such as in the Fasnacht tradition of chasing away winter using noise and masks.
Russia Halloween in Russia is not quite the same as it is elsewhere. You will not see gleeful kids trick-or-treating on the Moscow streets – simply because Halloween is not celebrated among children in Russia. The holiday, originally brought to North America from Ireland, found its way into Russian night clubs about eight to ten years ago. Halloween remains new for the majority of Russian society, yet signs show that the holiday is gaining popularity among young adults.
Today's Halloween customs are also thought to have been influenced by Christian dogma and practices derived from it. Halloween falls on the evening before the Christian holy days of All Hallows' Day (also known as All Saints' or Hallowmas) on 1 November and All Souls' Day on 2 November, thus giving the holiday on 31 October the full name of All Hallows' Eve By the end of the 12th century they had become holy days of obligation across Europe and involved such traditions as ringing church bells for the souls in purgatory. In addition, "it was customary for criers dressed in black to parade the streets, ringing a bell of mournful sound and calling on all good Christians to remember the poor souls." "Souling", the custom of baking and sharing soul cakes for all christened souls, has been suggested as the origin of trick-or-treating.

The custom dates back at least as far as the 15th century and was found in parts of England, Belgium, Germany, Austria and Italy. Groups of poor people, often children, would go door-to-door during Allhallowtide, collecting soul cakes, in exchange for praying for the dead, especially the souls of the givers' friends and relatives. Shakespeare mentions the practice in his comedy The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1593). The custom of wearing costumes has been explicated by Prince Sorie Conteh, who wrote: "It was traditionally believed that the souls of the departed wandered the earth until All Saints' Day, and All Hallows' Eve provided one last chance for the dead to gain vengeance on their enemies before moving to the next world. In order to avoid being recognized by any soul that might be seeking such vengeance, people would don masks or costumes to disguise their identities".
Anglican colonists in the South and Catholic colonists in Maryland "recognized All Hallow's Eve in their church calendars", although the Puritans of New England maintained strong opposition to the holiday, along with other traditional celebrations of the established Church, including Christmas. Mass Irish and Scottish immigration during the 19th century increased the holiday’s celebration in the United States. "In Cajun areas, a nocturnal Mass was said in cemeteries on Halloween night. Candles that had been blessed were placed on graves, and families sometimes spent the entire night at the graveside." Confined to the immigrant communities during the mid-19th century, it was gradually assimilated into mainstream society and by the first decade of the 20th century it was being celebrated coast to coast by people of all social, racial and religious backgrounds.
Symbols Development of artifacts and symbols associated with Halloween formed over time. Jack-o'-lanterns are traditionally carried by guisers on All Hallows' Eve in order to frighten evil spirits. There is a popular Irish Christian folktale associated with the jack-o'-lantern, which in lore, is said to represent a "soul who has been denied entry into both heaven and hell".
As the legend goes: On route home after a night's drinking, Jack encounters the Devil and tricks him into climbing a tree. A quick-thinking Jack etches the sign of the cross into the bark, thus trapping the Devil. Jack strikes a bargain that Satan can never claim his soul. After a life of sin, drink, and mendacity, Jack is refused entry to heaven when he dies. Keeping his promise, the Devil refuses to let Jack into hell and throws a live coal straight from the fires of hell at him. It was a cold night, so Jack places the coal in a hollowed out turnip to stop it from going out, since which time Jack and his lantern have been roaming looking for a place to rest.
In Ireland and Scotland, the turnip has traditionally been carved during Halloween, but immigrants to North America used the native pumpkin, which is both much softer and much larger – making it easier to carve than a turnip. The American tradition of carving pumpkins is recorded in 1837 and was originally associated with harvest time in general, not becoming specifically associated with Halloween until the mid-to-late 19th century.
Traditionally, the back walls of churches are "decorated with a depiction of the Last Judgment, complete with graves opening and the dead rising, with a heaven filled with angels and a hell filled with devils," a motif that has permeated the observance of this triduum. One of the earliest works on the subject of Halloween is from Scottish poet John Mayne, who, in 1780, made note of pranks at Halloween; "What fearfu' pranks ensue!", as well as the supernatural associated with the night, "Bogies" (ghosts), influencing Robert Burns' "Halloween" (1785). Elements of the autumn season, such as pumpkins, corn husks and scarecrows, are also prevalent. Homes are often decorated with these types of symbols around Halloween. Halloween imagery includes themes of death, evil, and mythical monsters. Black, orange, and sometimes purple are Halloween's traditional colors.

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