No self-respecting, candy-loving child could, would, ever forget one of the most important candy-reaping days of the year.
Halloween used to be so simple when I was a kid. Get dressed up as a princess or a ballerina and get candy from everybody.
I really like the part about the candy.
With the Internet, there is so much written about everything, including Halloween, it almost takes the fun out of learning about its origins and the different customs.
Now, I did say “almost” because there’s still the candy part, but it takes away from any celebration when you have to do too much thinkin’ about it. Don’t you think?
But there is some value and also some fun — or at least as much fun as you can have without candy — in learning about some of the factoids concerning Halloween.
Yes, as many people know, Halloween stems from old Celtic traditions and is one of the oldest recorded holidays — Samhain, I believe it was called. In fact, according to my research, Halloween is celebrated by more countries today than at any other time in history. But Halloween was actually an Irish import to America in the middle of the 1800s — all thanks to a spud. Or rather, many spuds, or rather the lack of many spuds. You see, the Irish came to the United States in the mid-1800s — bringing with them their Halloween traditions — because of the potato famine.
So, that’s why I say that potatoes started our Halloween celebrations here.
But, after that point, most Halloween celebrations around the globe these days are much more recent and as a direct result of American culture infusing itself into other cultures! Canada had the same experience with the Irish and Scottish immigrants in the 1850s.
Ireland celebrates Halloween pretty much like we here in the states do — kids getting dressed up in costumes and going trick-or-treating for candy or maybe going to a party. The Irish even play various versions of bobbing for apples. The Irish, however, also light up bonfires in celebration. I guess, sometimes we here do also?
They also often bake a cake with little prizes inside. The one that gets one of these prizes foretells that person’s future — a ring, getting married; a piece of straw, good finances, and others. You get the idea.
In Austria, some leave bread, water and a lighted lamp on the table over night for any wandering souls that might visit earth on this one night of the year. Apparently, the Austrians believe this night to be “magical,” but the Belgians do the same, and I couldn’t find any magical thinking involved with just remembering their loved ones who have passed on. So, different reasons, same customs.
Many other countries also consider it a night to honor their ancestors, especially in China and Japan.
In China, their Halloween festival is known as Teng Chieh. Food and water are placed before the photographs of loved ones who have passed away, and bonfires are also set ablaze to guide their loved ones on their journeys here on earth on Halloween. Small fires are set to also remember their loved ones, called “boats of the law” made from paper, which also help guide their ancestors, or “pretas,” to heaven.
In the country formerly known as Czechoslovakia, chairs of living and deceased members of the family are placed before the fireplace on Halloween night, while in England, English children carved designs into large beets, called “punkies,” much like the Irish and Scots used turnips. Yep, turnips — well, technically rutabagas, but what the diff, right! — were initially used rather than pumpkins onto which were carved faces and designs to celebrate Halloween.
Halloween in England turned into a celebration of Guy Fawkes Day instead. Guy Fawkes Day is designed to celebrate the execution of a renowned traitor.
That’s what I read!
And here’s another “Go figure!”
There are some places where Halloween just isn’t very popular. France, for example, picked up the celebration because of the influence of American culture, as well as advertising, but supposedly its celebration has waned.
Candy, folks. Candy. How can interest wane on candy? Hello!OK, now. The following is a tad scary, but since I am German I guess I can let people know. Although, even though I am German on my mom’s side, I have never heard of this tradition. I’m just letting you know.
Supposedly, in Germany they put their knives away on Halloween night so any possible returning “spirits” won’t hurt others.
As I said, I never heard of this before!And, on a lighter note, for those diehard Halloween fans, it’s not too late yet. You can still hop in the car or take a plane and get to Anoka, Minn., called the Halloween Capital of the World. Supposedly, Anoka is the first city in the United States to hold a Halloween celebration. Their reasoning was to stop the kids in town from creating havoc and pulling pranks like soaping up windows or tipping over outhouses. Remember now, this was back around 1920!
It’s a huge event to this day!
They have a parade, give tons of candy and popcorn and peanuts to visitors, even sponsor pillow fights, have a kangaroo court, fireworks, royal coronations, concerts, dances, painting contests, decorating contests, celebrities and of course, costume contests and storytelling!
Whew! I’m too exhausted to go now. But you go! I believe I read that the town, made up of around 20,000, had around 50,000 visitors to this event in recent years — more than doubling, no, tripling the residents of this one tiny little town.
You enjoy! Tell me all about it when you get back. OK?
Just remember, whatever your feelings about Halloween and however you celebrate it or don’t — It comes down to one thing and one thing only.
It’s all about the candy!
There’s just one more question I have that’s sorta about Halloween. How does one celebrate All Saints Day the day after?