TODAY is internationally celebrated as Halloween.
The word Halloween (originally spelled Hallowe'en) is a contraction of All Hallows Even, meaning the day before All Hallows Day (better known today as All Saints Day), a Catholic holiday commemorating Christian saints and martyrs observed since the early Middle Ages on November 1.
Halloween traces its roots a pagan festival of ancient Ireland known as Samhain meaning Summer’s End. The prehistoric observance is said to have marked the end of summer and the onset of winter, and was celebrated with feasting, bonfires, sacrificial offerings, and homage to the dead. Summer's End, was the most important of the four quarter days in the medieval Irish calendar, and there was a sense that this was the time of year when the physical and supernatural worlds were closest and magical things could happen.
It was the Celts, who lived in the area now known as Ireland, United Kingdom and Northern France who believed that the dead returned to earth during Samhain. Banquet tables were prepared and edible offerings and edible offerings were left out to placate unwelcome spirits.
During these Celtic celebrations, villagers would disguise themselves in costumes. Some were made of animal skins to drive in belief that it would drive away phantom visitors. This custom was known as “mumming”. Mumming was originally associated with Christmas consisting of parading in costume, chanting rhymes, and play-acting, was a somewhat later addition to Halloween.
In addition, during the Medieval period, as they lighted bonfires for the plight of souls lost in purgatory, there was the going door-to-door offering prayers for the dead in exchange for "soul cakes" and other treats. People began dressing as ghosts, demons and malevolent creatures. And they did this in exchange for food and drink which were provided in the banquet tables.
As Christianity spread in the Celtic lands, it blended with the older pagan rites. In the tear 1000 A.D., THE Church declared November 2 as All Soul’s Day, a time for honoring the Dead. Celebrations in England resembled the Celtic commemorations of Samhain complete with bonfires and masquerades. Poor people went around visiting homes of wealthy families and received pastries (soul cakes) with the promise that they will pray for the souls of the homeowner’s dead relatives. This was known as souling. The practice was later taken up by children who would go door to door asking for gifts such as food, money or goodies. Today, we call it trick or treating.
In America, Halloween is the nation’s second largest commercial holiday and Americans spend an estimated $6 billion annually for this holiday.
In the Philippines, Halloween and Trick or Treat is likewise an anticipated event. Kids are dressed in costumes from their favorite heroes and the girls always want to be princesses. Some are dressed as ghouls, angels or demons.
As this is my “apo’s” first Halloween, although to young at 8 months closing in on 9 to really know what’s happening, nonetheless, he was dressed as a little devil. Together, with Pirates and Snow White and all cutesy costumes, they were entertained to magician acts and many goodies.
Happy Halloween everyone!!!