halloweenart

What’s Trick or Treat?

We often see and hear about traditions in other countries, one being Halloween. This holiday is vastly celebrated in countries such as America and Ireland. The tradition however does not affect South-Africa in such a big scale. Most people in South Africa barely even know anything about Halloween.

Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future.

On Halloween people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. On Halloween, to keep ghosts away from their houses, people would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, America was flooded with new immigrants. These new immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing Ireland’s potato famine of 1846, helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween. Taking from Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition.

Halloween has been heavily commercialised and even countries that does not share the tradition take some part in the fun by dressing up. We rarely see traces of Halloween in South Africa mainly because our culture is not familiar with this tradition and it is not applicable to us as our winter has already passed.

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Information was been sourced from http://www.history.com.

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