Thursday, October 16, 2008

'Tis the Season to be Frightened

Halloween is celebrated on the night of October 31st. Activities include trick-or-treating, ghost tours, bonfires, costume parties, carving Jack-o-Lanterns, reading scary stories, watching horror movies and for the die-hard fans visiting “haunted houses”.

Halloween is not celebrated the world over but most commonly in Britain, the United States, Canada, Ireland, Puerto Rico, Japan and New Zealand.

The name Halloween is shortened from All Hallows Even (both “even” and “eve” are short forms of “evening”, but Halloween gets its “n” from “even”), as it is the evening of All Hallows’ Day, which is also known as All Saints’ Day in many parts of the world. All Saints’ Day is a day of religious festivities in various parts of Europe. Although All Saints’ Day is now considered to take place one day after Halloween, the two holidays used to be celebrated on the same day.

The carved pumpkin, (affectionately known as Jack-o-Lantern) lit by a candle inside, is one of Halloween’s most obvious symbols in North America. Funny but true, the first “lanterns” were carved in Europe from a turnip or rutabaga. The Irish believed that the head was the most powerful part of the body, containing the spirit and the knowledge so they used the “head’ of the vegetable to frighten off spirits.

Halloween images tend to involve death, magic or monsters. Traditional characters include your ghosts and ghouls, witches, owls, crows, black cats, spiders, goblins, zombies, skeletons and of course your demons.

Particularly in America, the symbols of Halloween are inspired by horror movies.

Perhaps my love of one inspires my love of the other.

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