Halloween: When and Why do we celebrate? Safety Tips
Halloween: When and Why do we celebrate? Safety Tips

Halloween

The tradition is believed to have originated from the Celtic festival that was called Samhain. This was when people would gather together to light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. Later when Pope Gregory III determined that November 1 would be designated as the day to honor all Saints, soon the Saints Day incorporated some of the customs of the Samhain festival, along with the evening before the day was called as Hallows Eve, which was later popularly called as Halloween. As years passed by, Halloween evolved into a day where children goes for trick or treating, all of them would carve pumpkins to make jack-o-lanterns, attend Halloween themed celebrations, and wear Halloween costumes.

When is Halloween 2020?

Halloween falls on October 31st every year. This year, it is a Saturday on October 31st. The day is also believed to mark the end of Summer and also harvest and the start of dark and cold winters. Some also believed that on this day, the border between the living world and the dead becomes fuzzy, according to History portal. That is why, on the night of October 31, people celebrate Samhain, since it is the thought to be the time when the ghosts of the dead return to Earth.

When is Halloween 2020?

This year, Halloween falls on Saturday, 31st October 2020

History of Halloween

From the early 7th century Pope Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon in Rome, formerly a temple to all the gods, as a church dedicated to Saint Mary and the Martyrs, and arranged that date, 13th May, should be celebrated each year.

It turned into All Saints’ Day, a day to honor all the saints, and later, at the behest of Pope Urban IV (d. 1264), per day specially to honor those saints who didn’t possess a festival day of their own.

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From the 8th century, on 1st November, Pope Gregory III dedicated a chapel to all the saints in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Gregory IV subsequently made the festival worldwide during the Church, and 1st November has become All Saints’ Day to the western Church.
The Orthodox Church celebrates All Saints’ Day on the first Sunday following Passover – a date closer to the original 13th May.

The festival is located in areas of the UK, Hong Kong, Tokyo, both the US and Canada. People dress up in their scariest costumes, in order to ward off the evil spirits. The history of this festival dates back to 2000 years ago when the Celtics observed the festival over the final day of harvest in European countries. Some Christians also refrain from meat on this day and eat a variety of types of vegetarian foods such as apples, apple pies, potato pancakes etc.. People also attend church services and light candles on the graves of the individuals who passed away. This year the celebration would be a bit different due to this coronavirus pandemic, and so many households would refrain from large gatherings during this year. Happy Halloween!

Hallowe’en and Samhain

It is widely considered that many Hallowe’en customs have evolved from an ancient Celtic festival called Samhain which was Christianized by the early Church. Pronounced sow-in, Samhain is a philosophical term meaning ‘end of the summer’. This festival is thought to have been a celebration of the end of the harvest, and a time of preparation for the forthcoming winter.

It’s widely accepted that the early church missionaries opted to maintain a festival at this time of year so as to absorb existing native Pagan techniques into Christianity, thus diluting the conversion process.

A letter Pope Gregory I sent to Bishop Mellitus from the 6th century, where he suggested that present places of non-Christian worship be embraced and consecrated to serve a Christian purpose, is frequently provided as supporting proof of this method of acculturation.

Encyclopedia Britannica states that this date may have been chosen “in an effort to supplant the Pagan holiday with a Christian observance”.

The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions also claims that Hallowe’en “absorbed and adopted the Celtic new year festival, the eve and day of Samhain”.

However, there are fans of the view which Hallowe’en, as the eve of All Saints’ Day, originated entirely independently of Samhain and a few question the existence of a specific pan-Celtic religious festival which took place on 31st October/1st November.

Why do we celebrate Halloween?

Back in the days, one of the most important pagan parties was Samhain, or the Feast of the Dead. The festival marked the end of the harvest season and the start of the ‘darker half’ of the year, and occurred about halfway between the fall equinox and the winter solstice. It is frequently associated with death, as Celts believed that ghosts returned to the ground on this day. To ward off the evil ghosts and spirits away, people would build enormous bonfires in which they’d gather to burn plants, sacrifice animals, and wear costumes. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III made November 1 per day to honor saints and martyrs.

He made certain All Saints’ Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain, to keep peace with all the pagans. Samhain was renamed to All Hallows’ Eve, which eventually evolved to Halloween. The US adopted the Halloween celebration when the Irish potato famine in 1846 led to mass migration to America. People dressed up in costumes and knock their neighbor’s doors to request money or food, which, in time, transformed to modern day trick or treating. The event grew to have massive popularity in America, and eventually became the holiday we know today — a party of all of the things that go bump in the night.

Halloween Safety Tips

Halloween is coming. A lot of people see Halloween as a time for treats and fun, dressing up in costumes, and attending spooky parties. It is also a time to become aware and demonstrate more care, especially for children, due to the increased foot traffic in low light conditions.

In the USA, children aged 5-14 are more likely to be struck by vehicular traffic when walking on Halloween night in comparison to other nights of this year. Additionally, as we all know this year is much different because of the pandemic. If you are choosing to go out and trick or treat, please do this with current health and safety precautions associated with COVID-19 in your mind. Here are some security tips,

Children should:

  • Make a mask part of the costume (in case it wasn’t already)
  • Travel in small groups and be accompanied by an adult. (6 feet between unfamiliar groups)
  • Wash hands frequently, if possible and when you get home. (bring hand sanitizer)
  • Know everybody’s telephone numbers for emergency phone calls.
  • Carry a note in their pocket with their address and name.
  • Bring treats home before eating them so parents can inspect them.
  • When utilizing costume knives and swords, ensure they are flexible, not rigid or sharp.
  • When walking in neighborhoods, they need to:
    Use flashlights, stay on sidewalks if available, and avoid crossing yards.
  • Cross streets at the corner, use crosswalks if accessible, and don’t cross between parked cars.
  • Stop at all corners and stay together in a group before crossing.
  • Wear clothing that’s bright, reflective, and flame retardant.
  • Avoid wearing hats that may slide over their eyes.
  • Avoid wearing long, baggy, or loose costumes or oversized shoes to stop tripping.
  • Always look left, right, and left again before crossing the road.

Parents and adults should:

  • Supervise the outing for children under age 12.
  • Establish a curfew for older children.
  • Prepare houses for trick-or-treaters by clearing porches, lawns, and sidewalks and by placing decorations away from doors and landings.
  • Avoid giving choking hazards like gum, peanuts, hard candies, or small toys as treats to young children.
  • Destroys all candy before children eat it.
  • To ensure the security of pedestrian trick-or-treaters, parents and adults should:
    Ensure children under age 10 are supervised as they cross the road.
  • Drive slowly.
  • Watch for children in the street and on medians.
  • Exit driveways carefully.
  • Have children get out of cars on the curbside, not the traffic side.
  • Consider taking advantage of community events where the kids can show off their costumes and trick-or-treat in one central place without the need to navigate city and neighborhood streets. (Business trick or treat events in town)

Following these tips should help ensure this Halloween is a safe and fun holiday for everyone.

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