Mostrando entradas con la etiqueta Halloween. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando entradas con la etiqueta Halloween. Mostrar todas las entradas

Happy Halloween!!!

It’s been a week now since we started to see a very peculiar decoration in every shop window: some smiling diabolic cabbages seeming to say ‘hello!’ to passers by, ‘get ready for Halloween!’ That’s right: Halloween is approaching, and in some days many people will wear terrific costumes to attend massive parties or just to celebrate the special occasion with friends. In the last two decades the Spaniards have incorporated the tradition of Halloween, as a way of showing our immersion into the global Anglo-Saxon culture, but do we really know what Halloween means and which its origins are? Let’s investigate about it!

Two thousand years ago, while the Romans were trying to control Europe, members of the Celt tribes that resisted Roman domination to the North of present-day France and in the British Islands gathered every late October to celebrate the end of harvest. Apparently the celebration was supposed to be a big one, as another year had gone by without great problem and the gods had favoured their worshippers with enough food to go trough a harsh winter. However, Celts knew that the end of harvest was also the beginning of dark times, when the sun would go down shortly after midday, leaving the people to their own luck and, of course, exposed to the threat of bad spirits, who would feel rather comfortable in an isolated land abandoned by the sunlight. Suddenly they had an outstanding idea: what if they dressed up as bad spirits? What if they walked around disguised as terrific creatures of which the bad spirits themselves would be terrified? Thus the commemoration of Samhain, or the end of harvest, became also a means of terrifying the devil and making sure that the whole community passed the winter unthreatened by it.

Happy Halloween | 121 Conversation
Picture taken by Antonio J. Pinto in Hoboken, New Jersey. Halloween, 2010
The Celts could not imagine that they had just invented Halloween, though some centuries had still to pass by before the contemporary celebration took shape. First, the Romans adopted it once they had already taken control of the whole continent, and they too celebrated the end of harvest and of summer in a very similar way, in order to honour Pomosa, the holy goddess of harvest whose symbol was a poma, that is, an apple. By the end of the 5th Century Catholicism became official within the Roman Empire and maintained the tradition, only that three centuries later popes Gregory 3rd and Gregory 4th made some changes in it: on the one hand, they decided to turn it into a celebration in daytime, as Catholicism tended to associate sin to everything that happened after sunset; on the other hand, they decided to make it a remembrance of the souls of the dead and to empty it of its pagan meaning. Hence they called it ‘All Hallows’ Eve’, which contracted became ‘Halloween’.

In the same places where the Celts had lived hundreds of years before, Catholic communities started to honour the souls of their deceased relatives or friends, but they also preserved the tradition of wearing terrifying customs, only then it was just a way of having fun and losing one’s inhibition behind the mask of anonymousness. European Anglo-Saxon migrants that crossed the Atlantic and colonised America took the tradition with them and strengthened it, especially in a new land where they felt a special necessity to conjure the threat of the devil and the unknown, as well as to demand protection and good luck by thanking God for the recent and prosperous harvest. That was why Halloween became so popular in the United States, where it turned into a major celebration in the 1920s, when everyone wished to let the world know about the benefits of the American Way of Life.

At present, Halloween has become a major occasion to meet with friends, have a nice time and, just for one night, forget about everyday life and lose the fear of making a fool of oneself. Therefore, it is another way of bringing a smile to your own face and, by that, to the faces of all the people that share the moment with you. This is one of the main reasons why it has become so popular in Spain and in other non-Anglo-Saxon countries that have incorporated it to their popular culture, where people pretend to terrify the others in the evening just to wake up the next day with the sweet taste of candy on their lips.

Happy Halloween!!!

Before finishing the article, let me ask you some questions:

Were you aware of the origins of Halloween? Do you celebrate Halloween? If so, how do you do it? If you have children, do you encourage them to wear dresses and go door after door asking ‘trick or treat’? What do you think of incorporating this tradition to the Spanish popular culture? What other ways do you think we might promote to celebrate Halloween?

(Add your comments below)

Autor: Antonio Jesús Pinto
Profesor en 121 Conversation. Es Doctor en Historia Contemporánea. Ha vivido en Londres, Nueva York y Pittsburg. Tiene una amplia experiencia como profesor de inglés. Por su  experiencia y su formación profesional, dice estar "convencido que mis clases ayudarán al alumno a coger soltura y a tener más confianza en si mismo a la hora de hablar el inglés".