The thing about Halloween is that it’s just as mysterious as it is frightening. No one really knows why it came about. I think, by now, we all know that Halloween is a contraction of ‘All Hallow’s Eve’, and if we didn’t, at least we all know someone who would have known that. But where did the bizarre traditions and all the associated nonsense come from?
Apparently, the reason that there is such a bizarre mix of activities is because Halloween as we know it is a horrific amalgamation of four completely separate festivals throughout history. We have a Roman festival called Pomona that celebrates nuts and seeds; an Old Irish festival called Samuin held for ‘Summer’s End’; a Catholic celebration of the Saints; and another Roman celebration, ‘The Festival of the Dead’ (finally, something a little morbid!). Throw all these religious and cultural ideas together, and apparently you get this:
One would expect there to be religious connotations behind Halloween. After all, we all know that Christmas was created by Christians in order to give small children more presents, or something like that. But no, not Halloween. Father Gabriele Amorth, a vatican-appointed exorcist (who incidentally wins the best name-title combo ever!), is quoted as saying, “it is just a game, there is no harm in that”.
One of the most prominent themes during Halloween is the fact that most people will dress up in a vaguely terrifying outfit. Note that I say ‘vaguely’. Last night I saw a pair of bumblebees… Anyways, the general procedure is that the guys are forced to come up with the most original costume in order to impress their bros, whilst most girls will dress up in -sorry- most girls will dress down. Expect to see lingerie passing off for acceptable evening wear. There will also be a wide range of fluffy animals, such as rabbits and kittens, because apparently these girls think that the male population is in to bestiality. The best costume I have seen is located here, whereas the worst costume ever is definitely this:
You see, what this guy has forgotten is that ball pits are for children. And he has put his naked penis inside a children’s toy. This is so many times worse than riding around in a white van, offering sweets.
Another Halloween staple is trick-or-treating. This fun past-time, in which candy somehow becomes unlimited and free, supposedly originated in Britain, but I’ve only ever seen in done in American sitcoms. Perhaps I was just a deprived child. Whilst we’re on the subejct of ‘deprived’, apparently, in the Middle Ages, poor folk would go door to door on Hallowmas (as it was then known) asking for free food, and in return they would pray for the kind family. Haha, ‘poor folk’. A word of advice if you are on the receiving end of a trick-or-treating: dog treats are not acceptable. This faux-pas once really put me in the dog-house!
We, as humans, also decided that a good way to evoke fear would be by carving pumpkins into various shapes. We have also decided that pumpkins are not for eating, given that 99% of pumpkins sold in the US are used as Jack O’Lanterns at Halloween. Fair point though, when was the last time you had pumpkin-on-toast? Once again proving that people in the olden days are crazy in so many ways, people traditionally carved turnips in order to remember the souls that were held in purgatory. I hear you laughing at the notion of carving a tiny turnip, but a quick google image search will show you that they really can be quite impre-
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