Halloween or Hallowe’en also known as All Hallows’ Eve, is a yearly celebration observed in a number of countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day. It initiates the triduum of Hallowmas, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed believers.
According to many scholars, All Hallows’ Eve is a Christianized feast initially influenced by Celtic harvest festivals, with possible pagan roots, particularly the Gaelic Samhain. Other academics maintain that it originated independently of Samhain and has solely Christian roots.
Typical festive Halloween activities include trick-or-treating (or the related “guising” or “trunk-or-treating“), attending costume parties, decorating, carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, visiting haunted attractions, playing pranks, telling scary stories, and watching horror films.
Today’s Halloween customs are also thought to have been influenced by Christian dogma and practices derived from it. Halloween falls on the evening before the Christian holy days of All Hallows’ Day (also known as All Saints’, Hallowmas or Hallowtide) on 1 November and All Souls’ Day on 2 November, thus giving the holiday on 31 October the full name of All Hallows’ Eve. Since the time of the primitive Church, major feasts in the Christian Church (such asChristmas, Easter and Pentecost) had vigils which began the night before, as did the feast of All Hallows’. These three days are collectively referred to as Hallowmas and are a time for honoring the saints and praying for the recently departed souls who have yet to reach Heaven. All Saints was introduced in the year 609, but was originally celebrated on 13 May.
In 835, it was switched to 1 November (the same date as Samhain) at the behest of Pope Gregory IV. Some suggest this was due to Celtic influence, while others suggest it was a Germanic idea. It is also suggested that the change was made on the “practical grounds that Rome in summer could not accommodate the great number of pilgrims who flocked to it”, and perhaps because of public healthconsiderations regarding Roman Fever – a disease that claimed a number of lives during the sultry summers of the region.
Trick-or-treating is a customary celebration for children on Halloween. Children go in costume from house to house, asking for treats such as candy or sometimes money, with the question, “Trick or treat?” The word “trick” refers to “threat” to perform mischief on the homeowners or their property if no treat is given. The practice is said to have roots in the medieval practice of mumming, which is closely related to souling (discussed above). John Pymm writes that “many of the feast days associated with the presentation of mumming plays were celebrated by the Christian Church.”These feast days included All Hallows’ Eve, Christmas, Twelfth Night and Shrove Tuesday. Mumming, practised in Germany, Scandinavia and other parts of Europe, involved masked persons in fancy dress who “paraded the streets and entered houses to dance or play dice in silence.
As for me:
It’s the time of the year where everyone can play around with their imagination and be anything they want to be, to the extent of scaring people. It’s a time for kids and kids at heart to amuse each other as how creative they can be. It’s a celebration of fun, surprises and treats. In line with Halloween, we also celebrate the souls of our dear departed loved ones to let them know that though they are not with us physically, they will always be a part of our lives.
This day also serves as a family reunion day for us, Filipinos. It’s the day we exert extra effort to be with our family in visiting the graves of our departed ones.
Whatever personal significance Halloween has for each one of us, this day will always be celebrated with a smile on our face and love on our hearts for the people we once shared our life with.