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the History of Halloween

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Author Topic: the History of Halloween  (Read 193 times)
Jennifer O'Dell
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« Reply #15 on: October 07, 2007, 01:23:25 am »


Ireland

In places of Ireland, huge bonfires are lit. Young children in disguise are gladly received by the neighbors with "fruit, miniature chocolate bars, loose change, peanuts and of course sweets(Candy)" for the "Halloween Party", whilst older male siblings play innocent pranks on their bewildered victims. Some homes will put up decorations including Halloween lights. Since schoolchildren have the week off for Halloween, it is common for teenagers and college students to spend weeknights out with friends pranking and causing mischief, if not trick-or-treating themselves.


United Kingdom

In Scotland, children or guisers are more likely to recite "The sky is blue, the grass is green, may we have our Halloween" instead of "trick or treat!" Walking in groups, the children visit neighbors and must impress them with a song, poem, trick, joke or dance in order to earn treats. Traditionally, nuts, oranges, apples and dried fruit were offered, though children might earn a small amount of cash, usually a sixpence. (Participation was also open to very young children, for whom the experience of performing could be more terrifying than ghosts and goblins).

In England, trick-or-treating does occur, particularly in working class neighborhoods. In general, however, the practice is regarded as a nuisance at best and a menacing form of begging at worst. In some areas, households have started to put decorations on the front door to indicate that 'trick-or-treaters' are welcome, the idea being that 'trick-or-treaters' avoid a house not 'participating' in the custom. Tricks currently play a less prominent role, though Halloween night is often marked by vandalism such as soaping windows, egging houses or stringing toilet paper through trees. Before indoor plumbing was ubiquitous, tipping over or displacing outhouses was a popular form of vandalism. Casting flour into the faces of feared neighbors was also common practice at one time.

« Last Edit: October 07, 2007, 01:38:34 am by Jennifer O'Dell » Report Spam   Logged
Jennifer O'Dell
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« Reply #16 on: October 07, 2007, 01:28:03 am »

Halloween costumes are outfits worn on or around October 31, the day of Halloween. Halloween is a modern-day holiday originating in the Pagan Celtic holiday of Samhain (in Christian times, the eve of All Saints Day). Although popular histories of Halloween claim that the practice goes back to ancient celebrations of Samhain, in fact there is little primary documentation of masking or costuming on Halloween before the twentieth century.[1] Costuming became popular for Halloween parties in America in the early 1900s, as often for adults as for children. The first mass-produced Halloween costumes appeared in stores in the 1930s when trick-or-treating was becoming popular in the United States.

What sets Halloween costumes apart from costumes for other celebrations or days of dressing up is that they are often designed to imitate supernatural and scary beings. Costumes are traditionally those of monsters such as vampires, ghosts, skeletons, witches, and devils. There are also costumes of pop culture figures like presidents, or film, television, and cartoon characters. Another popular trend is for women (and in some cases, men) to use Halloween as an excuse to wear particularly revealing costumes, showing off more skin than would be socially acceptable otherwise.

Halloween costume parties generally fall on, or around, October 31, often falling on the Friday or Saturday prior to Halloween.

According to The National Retail Federation’s (NRF) 2006 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, the top Halloween costumes for children in the United States are:

Princess
Pirate
Witch
Spider-Man
Superman // Disney Princess
Power Ranger
Pumpkin
Cat
Vampire
The top Halloween costumes for adults are:

Witch
Pirate
Vampire
Cat
Clown
Fairy
Gypsy
Superhero
Ghost // Ghoul
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Jennifer O'Dell
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« Reply #17 on: October 07, 2007, 01:29:42 am »




Costume sales

BIGresearch conducted a survey for the National Retail Federation in the United States and found that 53.3% of consumers planned to buy a costume for Halloween 2005, spending $38.11 on average (up 10 dollars from the year before). They were also expected to spend $4.96 billion in 2006, up significantly from just $3.29 billion the previous year
« Last Edit: October 07, 2007, 01:50:19 am by Jennifer O'Dell » Report Spam   Logged
Jennifer O'Dell
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« Reply #18 on: October 07, 2007, 01:37:38 am »


In this Halloween greeting card from 1904, divination is depicted: the young woman looking into a mirror in a darkened room hopes to catch a glimpse of the face of her future husband.
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Jennifer O'Dell
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« Reply #19 on: October 07, 2007, 01:39:02 am »

There are several games traditionally associated with Halloween parties. The most common is dooking or bobbing for apples, in which apples float in a tub or a large basin of water; the participants must use their teeth to remove an apple from the basin. A variant of dooking involves kneeling on a chair, holding a fork between the teeth and trying to drop the fork into an apple. Another common game involves hanging up treacle or syrup-coated scones by strings; these must be eaten without using hands while they remain attached to the string, an activity which inevitably leads to a very sticky face.

Some games traditionally played at Halloween are forms of divination. In Puicíní (pronounced "poocheeny"), a game played in Ireland, a blindfolded person is seated in front of a table on which several saucers are placed. The saucers are shuffled and the seated person then chooses one by touch. The contents of the saucer determine the person's life during the following year. A saucer containing earth means someone known to the player will die during the next year, a saucer containing water foretells emigration, a ring foretells marriage, a set of Rosary beads indicates that the person will take Holy Orders (becoming a nun or a priest). A coin means new wealth, a bean means poverty, and so on. In 19th-century Ireland, young women placed slugs in saucers sprinkled with flour. The wriggling of the slugs and the patterns subsequently left behind on the saucers were believed to portray the faces of the women's future spouses.[citation needed] A traditional Irish and Scottish form of divining one's future spouse is to carve an apple in one long strip, then toss the peel over one's shoulder. The peel is believed to land in the shape of the first letter of the future spouse's name. This custom has survived among Irish and Scottish immigrants in the rural United States.

In North America, unmarried women were frequently told that if they sat in a darkened room and gazed into a mirror on Halloween night, the face of their future husband would appear in the mirror. However, if they were destined to die before marriage, a skull would appear. The custom was widespread enough to be commemorated on greeting cards from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The telling of ghost stories and viewing of horror films are common fixtures of Halloween parties. Episodes of TV series and specials with Halloween themes (with the specials usually aimed at children) are commonly aired on or before the holiday while new horror films, like the popular Saw (film series), are often released theatrically before the holiday to take advantage of the atmosphere.

Visiting a haunted attraction like a haunted house or hayride (especially in the northeastern or midwest of the USA) are other Halloween practices. Notwithstanding the name, such events are not necessarily held in houses, nor are the edifices themselves necessarily regarded to possess actual ghosts. A variant of the haunted house is the "haunted trail", where the public encounters supernatural-themed characters or presentations of scenes from horror films while following a trail through a field or forest. One of the largest Halloween attractions in the United States is Knott's Scary Farm in California, which features re-themed amusement park rides and a dozen different walkthrough mazes, plus hundreds of costumed roving performers. Among other theme parks, Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom stages a special separate admission event after regular park hours called Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party featuring a parade, stage show featuring Disney villains and a Happy HalloWishes fireworks show with a Halloween theme. The Universal Studios theme parks in Hollywood and Orlando also feature annual Halloween events, dubbed Halloween Horror Nights
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« Reply #20 on: October 07, 2007, 01:40:03 am »



Candy apple
« Last Edit: October 07, 2007, 01:41:09 am by Jennifer O'Dell » Report Spam   Logged
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« Reply #21 on: October 07, 2007, 01:41:50 am »

Foods

Because the holiday comes in the wake of the annual apple harvest, candy apples (also known as toffee, taffy or caramel apples) are a common Halloween treat made by rolling whole apples in a sticky sugar syrup, and sometimes rolling them in nuts. At one time, candy apples were commonly given to children, but the practice rapidly waned in the wake of widespread rumors that some individuals were embedding items like pins and razor blades in the apples. While there is evidence of such incidents,[24] they are quite rare and have never resulted in serious injury. Nonetheless, many parents assumed that such heinous practices were rampant; at the peak of the hysteria, some hospitals offered free x-rays of children's Halloween hauls in order to find evidence of tampering. Virtually all of the few known candy poisoning incidents involved parents who poisoned their own children's candy, while there have been occasional reports of children putting needles in their own (and other children's) candy in a mere bid for attention.

One Halloween custom which persists in modern-day day Ireland is the baking (or more often nowadays the purchase) of a barmbrack (Irish "báirín breac"), which is a light fruit cake into which a plain ring is placed before baking. It is said that those who get a ring will find their true love in the ensuing year. See also king cake.

Other foods associated with the holiday:

candy corn
Báirín Breac (Ireland)
Colcannon (Ireland)
Bonfire toffee (in the UK)
Toffee Apple (Australia when celebrated, England, Wales and Scotland, instead of "Candy Apples")
Hot apple cider
doughnuts
Roasted sweetcorn
Popcorn
Roasted pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread
"Fun-sized" or individually wrapped pieces of small candy, typically in Halloween colors of orange, and brown/black.
Novelty candy shaped like skulls, pumpkins, bats, worms, etc.
Small bags of chips, pretzels and cheese corn
Chocolates, caramels, and gum.
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Jennifer O'Dell
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« Reply #22 on: October 07, 2007, 01:42:47 am »

Cultural history

Origin: Celtic observation of Samhain


According to what can be reconstructed of the beliefs of the ancient Celts, the bright half of the year ended around November 1 or on a moon-phase near that date, or at the time of first frost. The day is referred to in modern Gaelic as Samhain ("Sow-in" or alternatively "Sa-ven", meaning: End of the Summer). After the adoption of the Roman calendar with its fixed months, the date began to be celebrated independently of the Moon's phases.

As October 31 is the last day of the bright half of the year, the next day also marked the beginning of winter, which the Celts often associated with death, and with the slaughter of livestock to provide meat for the coming winter. The Celts believed that on October 31, the boundary separating the dead from the living became blurred. There is a rich and unusual myth system at work here; the spirit world, the residence of the "Sídhe", as well as of the dead, was accessible through burial mounds. These mounds were opened twice during the year, on Samhain and Beltane, making the beginning and end of summer spiritually resonant.

The Celts' survival during the harsh winters depended on the prophecies of their priests and priestesses (druids), and the accurate prediction of how much food would be needed to sustain the populace before the next harvest. They believed that spirits would aid in making accurate predictions about the coming year.

The exact customs observed in each Celtic region differ, but generally involved the lighting of bonfires and the reinforcement of boundaries, across which malicious spirits might be prevented from threatening the community.

Like most observances around this season, warmth and comfort were emphasised, while indulgence was not. Stores of preserved food were needed to last through the winter, and were not intended for parties.

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Jennifer O'Dell
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« Reply #23 on: October 07, 2007, 01:44:18 am »



Samhain possibly mistaken as New Year

Popular literature over the last century has given birth to the near universal assumption that Samhain/Hallowe'en was the "Celtic New Year". However, recent research by historians has begun to scrutinize the assertion. Historian Ronald Hutton, in his study of the folk calendar of the British Isles writes that there are no references which attest to this usage earlier than the 18th century, neither in church nor civic records. Although it may be correct to refer to Samhain as "Summer's End", this point of descent into the year's darkness may require better proof for us to cite this "end" as a "beginning" as well. Whether or not the ancient Celts considered Samhain to be the beginning of the new year, or just one point in the cycle of the seasons, the living traditions in the Celtic lands and the diaspora regard it as the "Celtic New Year" and it continues to be celebrated as such. For instance, the calendars produced by the Celtic League begin and end at Samhain/Halloween.
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« Reply #24 on: October 07, 2007, 01:44:53 am »

Norse Elven Blót

In the old Norse religion, an event believed to occur around the same time of the year as Halloween was the álfablót (elven blót), which involved sacrifices to the elves and the blessing of food. The elves were powers connected to the ancestors, and it can be assumed that the blót related to a cult of the ancestors. The álfablót is also celebrated in the modern revival of Norse religion, Ásatrú.
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« Reply #25 on: October 07, 2007, 01:46:37 am »


Religious perspectives

In Ireland, Halloween is far more traditional an event than in North America, with more cultural and historical significance, as opposed to the commercialized importance on the other side of the Atlantic. Therefore even amongst most Christians it is a far more accepted holiday with hardly any moral objections, in particular amongst Roman Catholics. However some people do find an Americanization occurring towards Halloween, which in turn could affect some traditions, notably the Samhain origins of the festival. It should also be noted that Guy Fawkes night is not celebrated in the Republic of Ireland at all. (In fact it is prohibited as it is a British protestant celebration of Catholic failure to overthrow the Monarchy in the 1605 Gunpowder Plot. In the past, it was used in Britain as a celebration of Protestant Ascendancy). Therefore Halloween replaces the celebrations that are experienced in the UK on November 5, whereas in Britain Guy Fawkes Night is culturally more important.

In North America, Christian attitudes towards Halloween are quite diverse. The fact that All Saints Day and Halloween occur on two consecutive days has left some Christians uncertain of how they should treat this holiday. In the Anglican Church, some dioceses have chosen to emphasize the Christian traditions of All Saints Day, while some Protestants celebrate the holiday as Reformation Day, a day of remembrance and prayers for unity. Celtic Christians may have Samhain services that focus on the cultural aspects of the holiday, in the belief that many ancient Celtic customs are "compatible with the new Christian religion. Christianity embraced the Celtic notions of family, community, the bond among all people, and respect for the dead. Throughout the centuries, pagan and Christian beliefs intertwine in a gallimaufry (hodgepodge) of celebrations from October 31 through November 5, all of which appear both to challenge the ascendancy of the dark and to revel in its mystery."

Some Christian churches commonly offer a fall festival or harvest-themed alternative to Halloween. Most Christians ascribe no significance to Halloween, treating it as a purely secular entity devoted to celebrating “imaginary spooks” and handing out candy. Halloween celebrations are common among Roman Catholic parochial schools throughout North America, and in Ireland, the Roman Catholic Church sees it as a “harmless ancient custom”. Father Gabriele Amorth, a Vatican-appointed exorcist in Rome, has said, "If English and American children like to dress up as witches and devils on one night of the year that is not a problem. If it is just a game, there is no harm in that." Most Christians hold the view that the tradition is far from being "satanic" in origin or practice and that it holds no threat to the spiritual lives of children: being taught about death and mortality, and the ways of the Celtic ancestors actually being a valuable life lesson and a part of many of their parishioners' heritage. A response among some fundamentalists in recent years has been the use of Hell houses or themed pamphlets (such as those of Jack T. Chick) which attempt to make use of Halloween as an opportunity for evangelism. Some consider Halloween to be completely incompatible with the Christian faith due to its origin as a Pagan "festival of the dead." In more recent years, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has organised a "Saint Fest" on the holiday. People of diverse religions (or no religion at all) may naturally be concerned about the vandalism that can occur on the holiday. Also, some Wiccans feel that the tradition is offensive to "real witches" for promoting stereotypical caricatures of "wicked witches". Some Neopagans and Wiccans also object to Halloween because they perceive it to be a "vulgarised, commercialised mockery" of the original Samhain rituals.[citation needed] However, other Neopagans, perhaps most of them, see it as a harmless holiday in which some of the old traditions are celebrated by the mainstream culture, albeit in a different manner.
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Jennifer O'Dell
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« Reply #26 on: October 07, 2007, 01:48:00 am »

Fiction

Ray Bradbury's The Halloween Tree features the holiday prominently. Halloween is frequently mentioned as an important date in the Harry Potter book series by J.K. Rowling, whose central themes are wizardry and magic. In Alan Moore's graphic novel Watchmen, several pivotal events occur on Halloween night, including the death of the original 'Nite-Owl'. Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and the character of the Headless Horseman are often linked to the holiday in the public mindset due to later adaptations (though Halloween is not actually mentioned in the original work).

Films in which Halloween plays a major role include adaptations of the above works, plus the Halloween film series, Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, Donnie Darko, and Hocus Pocus.

Numerous Halloween television specials have been broadcast, notably It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and the annual Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror" episodes.

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Jennifer O'Dell
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« Reply #27 on: October 07, 2007, 01:49:06 am »

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« Reply #28 on: October 07, 2007, 02:02:07 am »

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« Reply #29 on: October 07, 2007, 02:03:21 am »

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