Halloween is the most successfully commercialized holiday in America, after Christmas. Primarily a festival of the United States and Canada, Halloween is now celebrated in other parts of the world as well. An annual holiday in America that occurs on October 31 every year, Halloween is marked with immense fun and enthusiasm. A blend of the Celtic pagan harvest festival of All Hallow's Eve and Christian traditions to mark the New Year, Halloween has been infused with different customs, traditions, and superstitions. As such, pumpkins, witches, bonfires, ghosts, spirits, black cats, bats, spiders, skeletons, and warlocks are commonly sighted on this scary holiday, whether in the form of costumes, foods, activities, or even in reality. The customs of this spooky and ghoulish festival vary from country to country, but there certainly are some rituals which have resulted from the mish-mash of ancient customs merging into modern-day traditions. Illustrated here are some common and popular customs of Halloween. Continue scrolling.
Customs and Rituals of Halloween
Bobbing for Apples
As time passed by, the Samhain festival was highly influenced by other cultures, mainly of the Romans and Catholic Church. The Roman festival was celebrated during the same time around October. They honored heir goddess of the trees and fruits, Pomona. Both these festivals came to be celebrated on the same day and eventually, the custom of bobbing for apples got associated with Halloween, a tradition that is still practiced today. In this custom, apples are immersed in a large tub or basin of water, while the contestants try to get a bite from one of the apples without using their hands.
The significance of fire was equally important to the Celtics as was to the early man. Bonfires were lit in primeval times to ward off evil spirits as the light was believed to have the power of overcoming darkness. To bring good luck to households, people even jumped over the fire, at some places in the ancient times. The same custom of scaring away evil spirits is still practiced, though with a modern twist. Candles are lit in carved pumpkins and placed outside the homes to frighten witches and ghosts and prevent their entry into homes.
The jack-o'-lanterns are believed to have originated from Irish folk tale dating back to the 18th century. The evil and stingy guy named jack was popular for playing on everyone. On one occasion, he tricked a devil up to the tree and marked a cross to keep the devil from coming down. As such, the devil could not step down the tree because of the cross. When Jack died, he was denied entry into both heaven and hell. Left with no option, he wandered between heaven and hell. The devil took some pity on him and gave him some embers to light his path. Since Jack's favorite food was a turnip, the devil hallowed the turnip and placed the embers in it, to light Jack's way wherever he wandered. The carving of pumpkins into jack-o'-lanterns was introduced by the Americans and has now become a popular Halloween activity. Originally, the Irish carved out potatoes and turnips, but took up to pumpkin after they came to America.
An influence from the Roman Catholic Church, the customs of trick-or-treating started on the ancient festival of All Hallow's Eve, celebrated on October 31. On this day, beggars and Christians went door-to-door asking for a soul cake in exchange of offering prayers for the dead. They carried a lantern with a lit candle inside, as a representation of a dead soul in purgatory. These soul cake seekers wandered around the neighborhood chanting:
Soul! Soul! For an apple or two
If you have no apples, pears will do.
If you have no pears, money will do.
If you have no money, God bless you!
Today, this primeval tradition of trick-or-treating has turned into a popular Halloween activity with modern touches. Kids disguise in scary costumes and go door-to-door in the neighborhood, greeting each homeowner with the question "Trick or Treat", indicating that the homeowner should be prepared for some prank in case he doesn't offer treats to the kids.
Different folk customs are associated with Halloween. Glance through this write-up to know the various customs and rituals of Halloween.