Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The History of Halloween: Customs (Post 2 of 4)

Customs are a traditional and widely accepted way of behaving or doing something that is specific to a particular society, place, or time. (dictionary.com)

Halloween, like most holidays, have specific customs that are preformed on that day.  

We're all familiar with trick-or-treating.  Going door-to-door and receiving a treat.  Most (I would say all, but some children didn't dress up in my neighborhood) children and adults will dress in a costume.  Let's take a look at some ancient customs.

Originally, Halloween was celebrated as Samhain by the Celts and believed to be the night when the divide between the world of the living and that of the dead was easily crossed.  (But you remember that from last Tuesday's post!)

Today's customs, which now spread almost worldwide (especially since television has become so popular), include:
  • Trick-or-treating
  • Wearing costumes
  • Parties
  • Bobbing for Apples
  • Telling scary stories
  • Watching scary movies
  • Haunted houses
  • Hayrides 
Now, in ancient times these were popular:

  • Bonfires (Ireland)
  • Fortune telling (Ireland, England, Colonial America, Europe)
  • Masks were worn by Christians to confuse evil spirits (That caught on, didn't it!)
  • Feasts honoring Pomona (Roman), Dead (Ireland, Scotland), Fairies (Ireland) and Harvest (Ireland, Scotland)
Find out more here: Wikipedia

Also, worth mentioning is the Day of the Dead, which is a whole new set of customs for Mexican or Mexican-Americans who celebrate it.  Find out more here:  Dia de los muertos

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