October was not a productive month for me. There’s so many ups and downs with many problems on hand for me to handle, and shamefully, I have only produced 15 articles last month. Worst personal record ever. Today I’m going to blog about Holloween. I know it’s a day late, but then again, better late than never, right? I have a resolution this month, which is completing a novel with at least 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo, but that does not mean I will neglect my blog as I go crazy writing a novel. That would mean I will blog insanely too, and hopefully will put my October’s record to shame. Yes, people, I was not joking when I said last month that I would like to participate.
Anyway, enough of my rants, let’s get to Holloween tales.
Firstly, on how Holloween originates. This is my version though, as told by my kindergarten teacher when I was around 5 years old. I did not study in Malaysia, so I was fed with all sort of Holloween tales. But trick or treating has always left me sick to the stomach, as I had too much candies to eat. Frankly speaking, Holloween is not really my favourite holiday.
I did not pay much attention back then, but I think I recalled some of the facts right. Holloween is not just about the commercialized trick or treating that the modern people would have it, but it has long extensive history and legends. A Celtic history at that, no less.
Halloween is originally celebrated on October 31st, the last day of the Celtic calendar. It was originally a pagan holiday where the Irish celebrated to honor the dead souls that wander the street on that very day. Halloween was referred to as All Hallows Eve and dates back to over 2000 years ago. Halloween culture can be traced back to the Druids, a Celtic culture in Ireland, Britain and Northern Europe. Roots lay in the feast of Samhain, which was annually on October 31st to honor the dead souls that are believed to wander on the streets.
Samhain signifies end of summer or beginning of autumn, which is November. Samhain was a harvest festival with huge sacred bonfires, marking the end of the Celtic year and beginning of a new one. Many of the practices involved in this celebration were based on superstition.
The pagans believed that on this very day, which is the last day of summer and the beginning of autumn, is the very day that the evil soul goes around wandering aimlessly on the streets. The poor souls, when was alive, did many awful things that is beyond redemption, and they are nothing but poor evil who are out to after the innocent people who are still alive. And of course, these souls or ghosts are not always very friendly.
The people thought of a way to appease the dead, which is offering of treats of goods and gifts in the form of crops that they harvested, hoping that by doing so, their next harvest would be bountiful. This custom then evolve into what you see those kids doing today, which is ‘Trick or Treating’.
And then there’s a story that have Christianity element in it. As it’s commonly known, Holloween is also known as All Saints Day or All Hollow Eve. It’s the evening before All Saints Day. A day created by the Christians to converts the pagan to Christianity and is celebrated on November 1st. The Catholic honored saints on this designated day.
The story that contains the Christianity element in it is the story of Jack O Lantern. Despite of the famous lantern that’s carved out of pumpkin that sometimes gives the chill to people, the real Jack is not a pumpkin or a lantern. The Jack O’Lantern legend goes back hundreds of years in Irish History.
He is a dirty old man who was always drunk and have no conscience. As a Celtic tale would have it, the drunkard would play tricks on everyone that he comes across. His family, friends, and the Devil himself is not even spared from Jack’s trickery.
One day, the day that is supposed to be the day that Jack died, the Devil came to him to claim his life and brings him to hell, because people like Jack would never be accepted to heaven as some of the things he did in life, like tricking his poor old mother is beyond redemption.
However, taking Jack’s life is a gruesome task, as he kept playing tricks on the Devil and made the devil to promise him not to bring him to hell once he died. After a few years, Jack finally died. He went to the pearly gates of Heaven and was told by Saint Peter that he was had led a miserable and worthless life on earth and therefore, he is not worthy of heaven. And since he’s not allowed to step his foot in heaven, Jack then went down to Hell and spoke to the Devil himself.
The Devil was still seething with anger when he saw Jack, who was begging for a place to stay in hell, since he have no other place to go. Unexpectedly, the Devil kept his promise to Jack when he was still alive and refused to accept Jack in hell. Now, since Jack could not go to heaven and hell would not accept him, he is damned to spend his afterlife to wander in the darkness between heaven and hell forever.
Jack, who was scared asked the Devil how he could leave if there’s no lights to guide his way. The Devil took a slight pity in Jack, and tossed a tiny ember from hell to Jack to guide his way in his wanderings. Jack placed the ember in a hollowed out Turnip, one of his favorite foods which he always carried around with him whenever he could steal one. For that day onward, Jack’s soul roamed the earth without a resting place, lighting his way as he went with his “Jack O’Lantern”.
On all Hallow’s eve, the Irish would hollowed out Turnips, rutabagas, gourds, potatoes and sometimes beets. They placed a light in them to ward off evil spirits and keep Jack’s spirit away. These were the original Jack O’Lanterns.
Somewhere in the 1800’s a couple of Irish immigrants went to America and the Irish immigrants quickly discovered that pumpkins were bigger and easier to carve out. So they used pumpkins for Jack O’Lanterns. So, ladies and gentlemen, that is why people originally carved out pumpkins and made lantern out of it during the Holloween, which is to keep Jack guided in his wandering and away from their homes.
People these days only know that Holloween is for trick or treating and asking for candies from door to door by dressing up as dead souls or whatever character of their choice and party around on Hollow’s Eve. That’s pretty much commercialized.
The original Holloween is supposed to be rather uneventful, as people would prefer to stay indoors to avoid wandering souls,not wander around like lost souls themselves. To me, though the modern way of celebrating Holloween is quite fun, I feel that it’s actually pathetic if people do not actually know what actually they are celebrating or where and how a certain festival originates.
Cleffairy: Boo! Trick or treat, don’t eat too much candies and get sick, people.