All Hallows Eve, Samhain, Halloween
by Eduard Schaepman, on 31 Oct 2019
Today is a holiday dominated by pumpkins and creepy appearances. Here too, the houses are a bit decorated, the sweets have been stocked and we're ready for a good game of acting ('oh, you are so scary'). We’re not as far yet as the Americans are, who even dress up their pets, yet we go a step further every year.
And every year I'm surprised by the following: Halloween was not invented by a candy factory. It's not quite clear when Halloween was first celebrated; one source talks about 2000 years ago, the other claims that the party is only 400 years old. They agree on one thing: the name 'Halloween' is a corruption of Hallow-e'en, or: All Hallows Eve. Literally translated: All Saints' Eve, which is the night before All Saints' Day. That's every year on the 1st of November, and then we'll be celebrating 'the new'.
Halloween and All Saints' Day are celebrated on 31 October and 1 November and those dates come from the ancient Celts: a collection of peoples and tribes that have spread views from Central Europe. According to their calendar, the new year started on the 1st of November. On October 31st it was next to the end of the harvest season, New Year's Eve and of course that had to be celebrated.
The old Celts came together around a big bonfire, which consisted of the wood that children had collected from the people's homes. They went from door to door, and the children were regularly given something to eat. And it was not only a special day because the harvest was in and the year was closed, but during Samhain the souls of the dead were given the opportunity to come to our world, both good and bad... In an attempt to scare them off, the Celts wore masks. And after hundreds of years, our children are dressed as vampires and ghosts on the streets!
It is really very special that such a tradition of an ancient culture is now celebrated all over the world. In any case, I find it incredibly interesting and would like to know why one tradition is a success and another is not. For example, we’re all lighting fireworks with New Year's Eve, while the Inuit on the other side of the world are filling the bladders of marine animals with air to celebrate the New Year...
Maybe it's time for a trip to an educational tribe, like I visited the Kyrgyz, Berbers and Mosuo before. If you have any ideas about a nice tribe, please let me know! But first it's time for a frightened look, to welcome the skeletons who will ring our doorbell tonight!