American Halloween Part 1

This time of year Hancock International College is glowing with excitement because our ESL students know the fall quarter is where we celebrate American Holidays HIC style.

Deliriumsrealm.com goes on to say, “Of all the holidays, Halloween stands out as the best example of the quintessential American “melting pot,” that is, a mélange of beliefs, rituals, or traditions, both religious or pagan, that stem from all cultures living in America. October 31 marks the observation of Halloween or Hallowe’en, a short variation of All-hallow-even, the evening before All Hallows Day or All Saints Day, on November 1. After the Romans conquered the Celts in 43AD, they adopted many of their festivals and incorporated them into their own religious celebrations. All Hallows Day was one such example. Originally the day that celebrated numerous pagan festivals, but Pope Gregory III would eventually designate November 1 to mark the Christian feast of All Saints Day, which had moved from May 13. According to the Church, a day started at sunset, which is why celebrations typically started on October 31, the eve of the holiday, All Hallows Day.

Halloween’s Celtic Origins

Jack O Lanterns: One of most poignant pagan celebrations was Samhain (pronounced “Sow-en,”) a Celtic holiday, which marked the end of the harvest and the end of summer. Samhain is sometimes also regarded as the “Celtic New Year.” Celts believed this was a very important day to celebrate, as this was the day when two worlds, the living and the dead, came together. Spirits were believed to be mischievous and caused trouble, sometimes damaging crops. So the Celts would leave food, gather together and set huge bonfires of burning crops, believing the light would drive away evil spirits away. Sometimes they lit candles or carved lanterns out of vegetables such as squash to light the way for good spirits. In the Americas, those lanterns would be carved out of pumpkins, also known as Jack O’Lanterns. There are also some accounts of people making animal sacrifices to Celtic deities and even dressing in costumes made of animal hides to fool evil spirits. These days, Samhain is celebrated more has a harvest festival but still uses many of the same rituals.

Halloween Traditions in the 1800s

European immigrants brought their rituals and customs with them to America. There are actually few accounts of Halloween in colonial American history due in part to the large Protestant presences in the Northern colonies and their strict religious beliefs. However, down in the Southern colonies where larger, more mixed European communities had settled, there are some accounts of Halloween celebrations mixing with Native American harvest celebrations.

In the mid 1800s, nearly two million Irish immigrants fleeing potato famine helped shape Halloween into an even more widely celebrated event. Scottish immigrants celebrated with fireworks, telling ghost stories, playing games and making mischief. There were games such as bobbing for apples, dooking, the dropping of forks on apples without using hands, and Puicini, an Irish fortune-telling game using saucers. Young women were frequently told if they sat in dark rooms and gazed into a mirror, the face of their future husbands would appear, however, if a skull appeared, the poor girl would be destined to die before marriage. The English observation of Guy Fawkes Day on November 5 had also become intertwined with Halloween. Most pranks and mischief were the work of naughty children rather than spirits as once believed.”

Full Article: https://www.deliriumsrealm.com/history-halloween-america/

Idiom of the Day

Death Trap

Meaning: a building or other structure that is dangerous

Example: That old roller coaster is a death trap. It will collapse one day if they don’t fix it.