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The origins of Halloween can be traced back as far as the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, the festival of the dead.
Originally this was celebrated by the Celts as a three day event that started at sunset on October 31 and ended at sunset on November 2. Now day one of the festival is known as “Samhain”, which is a Gaelic word meaning “summer’s end”. It was a day of feasts and of heightened supernatural activity, a time for divination and foretelling the future. It was also a time of gathering supplies of food and livestock for the dark winter ahead. The eve of this festival was considered a time to contemplate the year that had passed and to prepare for the one ahead.
This festival was also a time for planning for the future. Since it was believed that the souls of the dead would revisit their homes on this day, each household would set out a place at the dinner table and a chair for each member who had died since the last Samhain celebration.
The second day of this festival was known as ‘All Souls’ Day’, a day for visiting the graves of deceased relatives and friends. Gifts and offerings of food and drink were left on altars and tombs. In the late evening of the 31st, bonfires were lit to guide the dead on their way. Finally on the last day, November 1, offerings of food and drink were consumed and the people would dress up as demons, spirits and other ghastly creatures to intimidate away the spirits.
But, did you also know that Halloween celebrations vary from country to country? In Japan, for example, the children go around the neighborhood wearing masks and loudly chanting “Oni Bo” which translates into Devil Bo.
In Germany, they have a day called the "Fasching" which involves festive costumes and masquerades. The British have a day where you can go around and "souer apples". In Italy, they have a celebration called the "Santamaría" where Italians dress up as the Three Wise Men and go from house to house knocking on doors for “food”. In Sweden, they have a Santa called the "Tomte” who wears a red costume and gives presents to children. In Peru, they celebrate a day called "Punchos" where children go from house to house to collect food from the families who live there. And in Mexico, they have a day called "Dia de los Muertos" where people’s loved ones who have passed away come back to visit them, and they celebrate their loved ones' lives.
How do you celebrate Halloween?
The world is a very big place. Filled with billions of souls from hundreds of different countries. With so many different cultures, values, traditions and stories -- it's easy to lose sight of our similarities and forget that we all have them. While we each may have different traditions, celebrations or commemorations around our loved ones who have passed on the one thing we DO have in common is missing their presence. No matter how our Halloween, Dia de los Muertos or Tomte is celebrated or commemorated this year, may we all bask in remembering the love of family and those who have passed on with fondness and gratitude.
Author Bio: Veronika Childs is a Content Creator, Professional Problem Solver and Productivity Specialist. She is passionate about helping her clients convey their digital message and streamline their productivity and workflow.
Through her podcast The Biz Essentials Podcast she encourages her listeners to “Keep the Spark” and turn their dreams into successful passion projects.