Ok, we know it has Celtic origins (and not American), we know that it was imported in America just like it was imported in the rest of Europe and all over the globe.
Let us now find out some reasons to Halloween’s rites that maybe you’ve never even asked about (pumpkins, masks, name, those who love it, those who hate it and why).
1 – Why people dress up like ghosts and dead?
Because among the rites and beliefs that accompanied the Celts toward winter time, there was the one night passage of god Samhain on earth; he recalled the dead to bring them (back) in the afterlife. Humans, for fear of being possessed or attacked by malevolent spirits in this hallows traffic night, disguised as dead or wore the skins of animals (dead, for obvious reasons).
2 – Why… ‘trick or treat?’
Because you can trick the dead but not the fairies and witches, and the Celts knew it very well.
Fairies and witches, in the hoolows-passage-night, had fun in making tricks. And… you know, fairies’ tricks are not funny at all. They took babies away from their families, and the reasons away from adults. When something tragic happened, people used to explain the unexplainable putting the blame on fairies.
So, the poor humans locked themselves in their houses for fear, letting milk and fruits on the entrance door.
3 – Why pumpkins?
In centuries of legends and stories, the strongest fairytale wins.
The reason for the carved pumpkin dates back to the Druids, who used to carve various types of vegetables, primarily turnips, to make lanterns and containers. But the strongest story is undoubtedly the one of Jack-o’-lantern, Irish drunkard blacksmith that cheated the devil twice.
At his death, his bad reputation did’t allow him to enter heaven. Hell hollows, on the other hand, told him he could safely remain to roam among the souls not welcome in the afterlife. Only pitiful gift from Satan, who in this story plays a true gentleman, a small firy piece of coal to warm up during the night. Jack put it in a turnip (Irish food, substituted by pumpkins after the Irish diaspora to the US, due to the potato famine); so, the turnip with a glowing ember is what you see of him when, on the night of the gathering of souls as in point 1, he returns to wander among the living.
4 – Why October 31?
Druids and their rites obviously didn’t follow our Gregorian calendar, which dates back to 1500. The rituals related to the tribute for the deceased on earth that we mentioned above, was a part of the Druid rites to wish a safe winter (a safe winter was definitely something that couldn’t be taken for granted at that time).
With the advent of Christianity, the pre-existing pagan rites were Christianized and the Samhain celebrations were associated with the Saints and the Dead commemoration, ‘institutionalized’ in early November. And here comes the question:
5 – Why this name?
Because it comes after the expression All Hallows’ eve.
From here, the Celtic tradition started to change, until nowadays. Christianity modified this tradition like many other things, i.e. the idea we have of the evil and of the dead, definitely more negative than the one they had once upon a time.
6 – Why is the catholic church (and Muslims as well) against Halloween?
It is not difficult to have an idea about it: Until a few years ago, this celebration was bound to Northern Europe and the USA, where it was imported by the Pilgrims. And to Australia, along with the other elements of its colonial history.
Here, in Southern Europe, Halloween arrived as a celebration already modified and heavily marketed, which shows the satanic in a positive and funny way, making it almost sympathetic and winner (there is no redemption in Halloween).
And… who knows why, but children seem to be more fascinated by the party with cakes and masks than they are by the mournful candles and visits to the cemetery on the day of the Saints and the Dead.
7 – Why left party-radical chic and right party-nationalists hate Halloween?
On the day of the passage of the dead souls, on the day when the fraudulent drunkard Jack swings his lantern in the darkness, the miracle happens and even the more ideologically distant political factions in the (often poor) political debate, find an agreement.
For many, Halloween is a symbol of the US capitalism that has colonized us with Beverly Hills, Mac Donald’s and the like (the most of them never heard about the druids and all their background).
For others, it is a blunt way to forget our patriotic anniversaries, related to our traditions and customs that are, according to many, already threatened (ignoring how the most beautiful Christian tradition are made up by contamination, the only way to go on in history).
Personally, I don’t give a damn and find Halloween funny since the day I understood more of its (true) history.
And because it makes me learn more about the Druids.
And because, in the end, the strongest fairytale wins.