Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween Traditions?

For me, Halloween always meant having my mom make a costume, and going trick or treating with my three brothers. After a few blocks, I'd have to go home while they got to go farther collecting more candy. My mom usually kept my costume simple, making me up to look like a gypsy or some exotic princess, which I LOVED. I think we ususually did those types of costumes though because it was a little easier and cheaper--not a lot of money back in those days. Some red lipstick, a pair of pretty shoes, a long billowy skirt and ta-da! You have a costume!

I don't think I understood anything about Halloween when I was a kid. It was scary movies, lots of candy, and one night where we weren't forced to go to bed on time. After I had kids of my own I did the same things with them. Carving pumpkins, roasting seeds, cute costumes that I just HAD to get pictures of... I guess it wasn't until I recent years that I started to get more curious about All Hallow's Eve.

Wikipedia says:

Halloween has origins in the ancient celtic festival known as Samhain (pronounced sow-in or sau-an), which is derived from Old Irish and means roughly "summer's end". A similar festival was held by the ancient Britons and is known as Calan Gaeaf (pronounced kalan-geyf). The festival of Samhain celebrates the end of the "lighter half" of the year and beginning of the "darker half", and is sometimes regarded as the "Celtic New Year".

The celebration has some elements of a festival of the dead. The ancient Celts believed that the border between this world and the Otherworld became thin on Samhain, allowing spirits (both harmless and harmful) to pass through. The family's ancestors were honoured and invited home whilst harmful spirits were warded off. It is believed that the need to ward off harmful spirits led to the wearing of costumes and masks. Their purpose was to disguise oneself as a harmful spirit and thus avoid harm. In Scotland the spirits were impersonated by young men dressed in white with masked, veiled or blackened faces.

Samhain was also a time to take stock of food supplies and slaughter livestock for winter stores. Bonfires played a large part in the festivities. All other fires were doused and each home lit their hearth from the bonfire. The bones of slaughtered livestock were cast into its flames. Sometimes two bonfires would be built side-by-side, and people and their livestock would walk between them as a cleansing ritual.

Truthfully, and maybe I'm going to sound dumb here, but I really didn't know ALL that. I knew there was more to Halloween than candy and pumpkins, but I didn't know the whole of it.

So, tell me, how much importance do you place on this particular holiday? Do you have any special traditions? Do you dress up still??


Regina Carlysle said...

Aw, I love Halloween. I just think there was something waaaay fun about dressing up and going door to door. The candy was cool but the dressing up part was awesome. When the kids were little, I really got into it and so did they. We'd decorate the house and stuff. These days, I don't do much. Hand out candy and watch some scary movies! To me, it's so much about winter harvest, the changing of the seasons, etc. I know there is a lot of folklore and symbolism to it though. I find it very interesting.

Crystal Kauffman said...

Halloween just isn't halloween without scary movies!

Allison Chase said...

Halloween is the one time I really miss living in Connecticut. I associate the holiday with crisp days and turning leaves, oak forests, and old colonial history. You really didn't have to decorate for Halloween, it was just naturally everywhere you looked.

Kelley Nyrae said...

I didn't know all that either. For me its just a day to do something fun with my kids. They love costums and going trick or treating. This will be the first year Kelsey really realizes what she's doing so it will be fun!

Roxanne Rhoads said...

My family hits all the harvest/Halloween celebrations possible and when we get the chance yes even the adults will dress up though usually it is just the kids.

We have our traditions like coming up with fun costumes that don't cost a lot and carving pumpkins as a family.

This family really loves Halloween. If we had a bigger house we would so have Halloween parties every year.

Paris said...

I loved the dressing up part and carried on the tradition of making costumes for my own kids. This year the leaves are beautiful, the air is crisp and it reminds me of Halloween when I was a kid;-)

Luci.Calanor said...

We always find a haunted house or a haunted hay ride to do in addition to the trick-or-treating. Personally, I don't worry about the religious aspects of this holiday because whatever it may once have been, now it's all about fun and fall and that's what my kid cares about.

Anne Rainey said...

Regina--I loved it when the kids were little more. They used to get so tickled dressing up and getting candy. :)

Crystal--Scary movies! Amen, sister! I love watching the horror flicks!

Anne Rainey said...

Allison--You make want to visit the state. Sounds very cool!

Kelley--I can see you revving up the camera! Gotta catch those memories!


Anne Rainey said...

Roxanne--I wanted to dress up last year, but just couldn't muster the nerve! I wanted to do the black cat costume. Just seems like fun!

Paris--The leaves really are beautiful! Why does it seem as if the colors are so much more vivid this year??

Luci--I went to a haunted house once. I was so scared I nearly had to have my brother carry me out of there. LOL

Bekki Lynn said...

I love Halloween - the decorations, the leaves changing color and blending with the orange and black. The treats -- popcorn balls, caramel apples, apple cider. Oh, and the scary movies -- I live on them: Syfy, Chiller, Sleuth, Fx, Disney all have been keeping me well supplied in one form or another.

Since we live in a predominantly senior neighborhood where candy is not handed out, we don't get treaters on our block any longer. So, we do horror flick night with all the goodie trimmings.

This last weekend, we did have a family gathering since family came to town. Jesse pulled all the decorations out and did the patio and backyard - we had a bonfire to roast hot dogs and marshmallows; a large pot of chilli and warm apple cider. A great time.

Anne Rainey said...

Bekki--That sounds like a blast! I wanna come to your house! *g*