Halloween: the truth about this festivity

 When we think of Halloween we come up with candies, jokes, customs, and activities involving families and children. In Italy, it is an acquired celebration, but in the Anglo-Saxon and Latin countries, it is a day rooted in far-reaching traditions. Today it is also a millionaire business that involves several sectors. But do you know the story behind this pagan celebration? Here is some good information.

The Origins of Halloween

Halloween is a two thousand years old festivity and comes from the Celtic folk festival called Samhain to celebrate the end of the summer, the beginning of the cold season, the darkness, and the period that was associated with death. It was celebrated on November 1st in countries that today include Ireland, England, and northern France.

It was thought that the night before, on 31st October, the dead would return as ghosts. So people put food and wine in front of their doorsteps to keep the wandering spirits away. To merge with the ghosts thought to be wandering around the villages, people used to wear white sheets when they came out of the house.

The Church subsequently transformed Samhain’s Day on the Day of the Dead. So October 31st became the eve of that day, Hallows’ Eve, which transformed further into Halloween.

The history of Halloween’s tricks, and treats

Everything had the origin in the medieval Britain. Many guys disguised and asking for sweets, money, and wine in exchange for songs, dance performance, and poetry recitals.

In the nineteenth century, during the great migrations to America, many have resumed the tradition making Halloween one of the most beloved celebrations by the Americans. At first, there were more tricks, but then in the 1950s, during the boom of births, the disguises increased until today it became a day for children and families.

halloweenIn addition to costumes and sweets, there are other traditional games and activities used during these days.
In the Anglo-Saxon traditions, people bake or buy the barmbrack cake that contains surprises and can predict the future to those who receive it. For example, if a girl receives a ring as a surprise, this could mean a close wed.

For Halloween it was believed that the border with the beyond and reality disappeared, allowing the coming of the spirits. This veil of mystery, during the time of the Celts and the Romans, meant an easy future prediction by fortune tellers and similar figures.

The story of witches

halloweenAmong the Halloween icons, there is the witch figure, dressed in black, with a broom, pointed hat, and green skin.
It is not a mystery that witches have been part of many popular traditions, not just in Europe, but also in Asia and Africa.

In the Middle Age in Europe, it was necessary to blame someone for the misfortunes that occurred. In fact, many people were accused of witchcraft, arrested and often executed, not just women but also men and even children.

It was thought that the witches would crumble into black cats to escape the persecution, giving way to superstitions on these animals.

After the witch hunt era, the charm of these people remained in history, becoming fairy tale characters and books, including L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”, where the Wicked Witch of the West appears. In the book, the witch was not green, but it became the 1939 “The Magician of Oz” because of a technicolor effect. Therefore the green witches have remained in our common imagination becoming the icon we know today.

How about the pointed hat? In the fifteenth century, many people from the upper class were already wearing similar hats. Subsequently, similar hats widespread in the poorest classes, the same from which most of the accusations of witchcraft took place.

The broom, once used for fertility rites, has subsequently become a symbol of witchcraft. It was, in fact, thought that brooms hid witch’s wands and were able to fly them to the sky thanks to some ointments

Today, “modern witches” are called Wicca and this group originates in England in the 1950s. These witches worship nature, a goddess and promise not to hurt others with their magic.

To conclude, today, Halloween is a profitable business not only for sellers and costumes but also for candy makers. It is estimated that Americans spend $ 6 million during this holiday, becoming the second major festivities after Christmas.

Perhaps the witches and wizards of the time did not predict it, but it is certainly a festivity that has influenced the whole world and is a unique way to unite children and families with candies, jokes and millennial traditions.

Katrin Ann Orbeta – Mash&Co Co-Author