HISTORY OF HALLOWEEN
WHAT IS HALLOWEEN?
Contrary to what a lot of people believe, Halloween isn’t traditionally an American custom, although our US friends have certainly adopted it as their own. The origins of Halloween date all the way back to the ancient Celtic, some say pagan, festival of Samhain, held in an area that is now known as Ireland. More than 2000 years ago, people would celebrate this harvest festival by lighting bonfires and dressing up in costumes to ward off ghosts and evil spirits.
It’s suggested that the costume custom also perhaps came from a darker source:
that the people who lived in those times were deeply superstitious and afraid of the dark and the entities that were said to be walking the earth. They’d often wear costumes and disguises so the ghosts would mistake them for other spirits and leave them alone.
Later in the 8th Century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as All Saints Day which incorporated some of the traditions which had their origins in Samhain. The evening before All Saints Day became known as All Hallows Eve, and over time, we came to know it as Halloween.
WHY SHOULD WE CELEBRATE HALLOWEEN IN AUSTRALIA?
Well, this is an easy one. It’s fun! Those who whinge that Australia is just giving in to US commercialism by celebrating Halloween – well, you don’t hear them saying we should ban McDonald’s, Starbucks or Apple. In fact, Halloween isn’t a new arrival into Australian culture either: Irish immigrants also brought the tradition with them when they settled here in the 1800s, but with the seasons being opposite to those of the Emerald Isle, it just didn’t seem as relevant as it once did for them and it slowly faded from memory.
Sure, it’s taken us a lot longer to embrace it than the Americans, but more and more people are starting to realise that Halloween is a fun celebration that the whole family can take part in. You can get to know your neighbours and wider community through well organised, and of course, fully supervised, trick or treating events and what kid (or adult!) doesn’t like to dress up in a cool costume?! They don’t have to be horror themed either … you can go as a superhero, a TV or movie character or a famous person in history. Heck, you could even go as your next door neighbour or boss if you wanted to – it’s all about having fun! And well, the lollies too ;)