When to celebrate Halloween: traditions of the most mystical day of autumn
Almost all of October is a month of preparation for one of the world's favorite holidays, Halloween. It combines the pagan traditions of celebrating the onset of winter with the Catholic eve of All Saints' Day. In many countries, it is second only to Christmas in popularity due to its bright and cheerful traditions.
OBOZREVATEL tells you when Halloween is celebrated. Also, what it means and how it is celebrated in different countries.
When is Halloween celebrated
The main celebrations take place on the evening of October 31 and the night of November 1. This year it will be the night of Tuesday to Wednesday.
It is on November 1 that the Catholic Church celebrates All Saints' Day. It has the rank of a celebration and a visit to the church is mandatory for all believers.
If we take into account the pagan roots of the holiday, it marks the arrival of the "dark" half of the year - the time after all agricultural work is completed, animals return from pastures, and the onset of real cold weather. This half lasts from November 1 to May 1. Thus, the opposite of Halloween, or as it is also called in the Celtic tradition, Samhain, is Beltane and Walpurgis Night, another celebration associated with evil spirits.
The meaning of the holiday
From the Catholic point of view, Halloween is a day to honor all those who have lived the life of a saint, regardless of whether that person was later canonized or not. It is immediately followed by All Souls' Day, when Catholics visit the graves of their relatives and friends. Thus, the symbolism of death on Halloween coincides in both Christian and pagan interpretations.
However, the Celts also associated the symbolism of death with the fact that the night of the new moon at the turn of October and November marked the beginning of the year, but they honored it differently than now. It was not a day of gift-giving, but rather a time to reflect on the fact that not everyone would survive this year, and that someone would die.
It was also believed that on the night of Samhain, a portal between the world of the living and the world of the dead opens. And the evil spirits that come to earth can take with them those who did not follow the rules of behavior accepted in society. So, in order to deceive the spirits, people dressed in animal skins. From there, the tradition of organizing a carnival on Halloween and wearing scary costumes later came. On this holiday, the "Jack-o'-lantern" was entrusted with protecting the house from evil spirits, a carved image of an anthropomorphic head with a scary face and a candle inside.
It was forbidden to harvest after Halloween. This day was also used to determine which livestock would be kept for the next year and which would be eaten in the winter. Thus, people switched to a winter lifestyle on this day, so the holiday was considered one of the most important of the year.
How Halloween is celebrated around the world
Despite the fact that traditional Samhain was associated with dressing up, the tradition of organizing carnivals and dressing children in scary costumes appeared sometime in the late 19th century, and migrated to the United States at the very beginning of the 20th century. But it quickly caught on and became one of the hallmarks of Halloween.
The tradition of trick-or-treating on this day dates back to Ireland. However, in the 20th century, it acquired modern features. Nowadays, in the United States and some other countries, it is customary for children in scary costumes to go from house to house and lure candy and cookies from the owners with threats.
In Ireland, an indispensable attribute of the Halloween table is colcannon, a vegetable dish made of mashed potatoes and cabbage, which is a side dish to ham, sausages or brisket. In the Northern Hemisphere, it is also customary to serve apples on the holiday, as autumn is the ripening season for these fruits. It can be fresh fruit, caramelized apples, or various types of apple pies.
In England, nuts are also an important attribute of Halloween. At night, couples in love throw walnuts into a festive fire and see what happens. If the nut cracks, or even better, makes a popping sound, it is considered a good omen.
In Mexico, the main celebrations take place on the memorial day after All Saints' Day. Here, on November 2, they celebrate the Day of the Dead and honor all deceased ancestors by setting up an altar at home in their honor, decorated with flowers and sweets. There are also parades in which whole families participate, people visit cemeteries and try to remember something funny related to the dead, laughing a lot at the graves.
Of course, the holiday could not bypass Romania, where the castle of the legendary vampire Dracula is located. All horror lovers come here to celebrate the scariest day of the year in the appropriate atmosphere.
Ukraine has not yet developed its own traditions of celebrating Halloween, especially since its elements are present in other traditionally Ukrainian holidays, such as caroling, caroling and malanka during the Christmas and New Year holidays. However, on this day, Ukrainians are more likely to dress up in scary costumes, paint their faces, and organize themed parties or nightly horror movie screenings.
Earlier, OBOZREVATEL told when Ukraine will celebrate St. Nicholas Day, the first holiday of the winter cycle when it is customary to give gifts.