From your friends at TPF, have a safe and happy Halloween!!!
Halloween is a holiday celebrated around the world annually on October 31. Celebrations vary based on geography, culture, religon, and individual preference, but most feature a theme regarding the honoring of ancestors and recognizing the change in seasons from a time of abundance and fertility (Summer) to a time of cold and darkness (Winter). This holiday goes by the name Hallowe'en, All Hallows' Evening/Eve, Samhain, Samuin, and Parentalia.
In neopagan and pre-christian faiths, the holiday of Samhain (pronounced SOW-win) represents the last of three harvest festivals, signifying the end of Summer and the coming of Winter. In a practical sense, the holiday celebrates the end of agricultural work (the harvests are in, work's done, HOORAY!), but has a dark connotation that "what you have is all you have"...what you've harvested had to last until the next growing season. In a religious sense, Samhain is one of two holidays (the other is Beltaine, held May 1) that represent a short time of transition, where the boundries between our plane of existence and that of the Summerland (where the spirits of the dead reside) become thin and porous. Spirits of fallen friends and family can come calling, or may even be invited to attend meals in their honor (called Dumb Suppers). Mischevious spirits can wreak havok on the living on this night, and many people decorate themselves and their homes with wards against these poltergeists in the form of Jack-O-Lanterns and elaborate costumes.
The Christian holiday of All Hallows' Day or All Saints Day occurs on November 1, and so October 31 is "All Hallow's Eve". Both All Hallows' Day and All Souls Day (held on November 2) involve honoring those individuals who have passed away and praying for the recently dead to ensure their souls safely reach Heaven, and are therefore very similar to the older cultural beliefs of this time of year. Attitudes amongst modern Christians regarding Halloween vary widely, from cheerful acceptance of what they see as a childrens' night of fun to a horrible holiday of demon worship and blasphemy. I recently saw a Christian Halloween dance being advertised as "reclaiming what Satan has stolen". Many American public schools no longer offer Halloween celebrations because of potential conflicts within their communities regarding the holiday.
The holiday of Halloween involves many unique images and traditions. The Jack-O-Lantern, carved out of gourds and root vegetables, is a common sight throughout October. Goblins, vampires, werewolves, and other denizens of popular horror fiction decorate homes and workplaces. Games like bobbing for apples and corn mazes become popular. Trick-or-treating is a common tradition on this night. Orange and black dominate clothes, homes, and stores. Above all, any nocturnal, creepy, or ferocious animal features prominently in Halloween decor, costume, and gift-giving. Scorpions, spiders, and insects abound...the raven and the owl watch over trick-or-treaters and are harbingers of news...and of course, the black cat slinks through the shadows, watching to cross the unwary's path.
This blog is sponsored by Tapir and Friends Animal Store.