Seeing as Halloween is just days away, I figured I’d talk about how much I love this time of the year. Since I was little I’ve always been interested in everything to do with Halloween. As a child I remember finding out about the cultural significance of Halloween through TV and books. I remember being beyond happy when I found out that I lived in one of the countries where the celebration of Halloween began: Ireland. The ancient Celts worshiped pagan gods, and followed a calendar based on the way the world interacted with the sun and the stars. Religious holidays and festivals were based around solstices, or the coming and going of seasons.
To the Celts, Halloween was known as Samhain. It was their version of the New Year, and as such it had a profound impact of the world around them. It was such an ingrained holiday to the Celtic peoples that the Catholic Church had to adapt around it in certain countries. Thus, Halloween became part of a larger tradition, and is a day before All Souls day. Growing up in Ireland, I, like most Irish children, learnt how to talk about Halloween in Irish. I was never great at learning languages, but I always liked it when it had to do when it was something fun like Halloween.
I think Halloween is as big as it is today because of American commercialism. It has become a mixture of several holidays, such as the Mexican Day of the Dead. Companies make a lot of money off of decorations, sweets and costumes at this time of the year. However, I don’t necessarily think that that is a bad thing. Neither do I think that that is all there is to it. I think people love Halloween because it allows children and adults alike to share in the fantastical. It is the idea that you can dress up and be someone different for a night. Also, I think there is playfulness in the idea that monsters and ghouls might be walking about that people just love.
Most importantly, I think there is just something that can’t be described about the atmosphere at this time of the year. It’s like we can feel change is in the air, and yet somewhere deep inside we know that this change isn’t very scary. Winter will come and go. Perhaps we parody our inbuilt fear of change to reassure ourselves that things will remain the same. Life will go on.
Nowadays, both Wiccans and Pagans still celebrate Samhain in a religious sense. I feel that this is something that is ignored by the larger media. To some, Halloween is not just a time for dressing up. It is a time to thank the world/universe. I won’t pretend to understand the larger concepts behind these religious movements, but I do think it is interesting. It is a time to leave behind the past, and move into a new period. I think above all else, people should respect that there is something more to this holiday for many different groups of people, past and present. Like a good book, Halloween cannot be judged by its cover.
(All images taken from weheartit.com sorry if I’ve infringed, but they are really pretty)