Street shops start to show spider webs, scary skeletons, bloody accessories. All of these have reminded us one thing: Halloween is just around the corner! For the best experience of Halloween, we need to root in the history of this festival.
The history of Halloween
Halloween is also known as “The eve of All-Saints Day”. Just like many other festivals, it’s a modern celebration resulting from the psychics and superstition culture in ancient times with the tradition of sacrifices and bonfire.
It is said that the origin of Halloween dates back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain in the 5th century BC. The Celtics lived in the area where generally Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northwest France locate now. And they celebrate their New Year on November 1st. Naturally, they see October 31st as the end of summer, symbolizing the end of a year. The harsh winter season will be waiting for them ahead. It’s believed that on the night of October 31st, the ghost of the dead returned to the earth. For the fear of becoming a ghost, the Celtics extinguish the fire in the house and walk on the street to drive away those ghosts. They would put on animal’s head and skin, dressing up as a ghost.
In the following centuries, the impact of Catholic and Christian culture also enrich the meaning of this festival. Then the mass migration of Irish people to America in the 19th century brought along the tradition of the festival and develop with the local culture. Afterward, the wild internationalization of American culture has helped the spirit of Halloween expand globally.
Nowadays it is still celebrated annually and internationally on the night of October 31. Not only in Europe, America but also in non-western countries such as in Asia and Africa, with different ways of embracing it. Basically, you can decorate your house with Jack-0’-lantern, a model of spider net, wizard or black cat. Also, you can put on typical Halloween clothes to join parade and bonfire on the street. Activities like pumpkin contest, trick or treat, or simply scaring your friends are always the highlights of this festival. For the bravest, sharing ghost stories and telling fortunes will also take place. Each of the name and activity of this festival has a root in the history. To know more you can read in details here.
Celebrations of Halloween in different countries
Best places to celebrate Halloween:
Actually, there are many places deserve to have an adventure in during the festival, especially in western countries. I would suggest the best cities to celebrate Halloween could be:
- Whitby, UK, the origin of vampire Dracula, with spectacular events at the beautiful gothic Whitby Abbey (Available to see more in the website of Whitby and Yorkshire)
- London, UK, with loads of Halloween events going on (big parade and firework, ghost hunts and ghost tours, spooky locations, magnificent cemeteries and etc.)
- Derry, Northern Ireland, UK. It was a city of shirt factories and where people have the culture of making Halloween costume on their own. You can find out their history and activities here, involving firework display, celebrations at 17-century walls, The Playhouse Theatre, Guildhall Square and etc.
- Transylvania, Romania, the home of Dracula with mysterious stories. Why not join in a Dracula tour or Halloween Party there?
- Salem, Massachusetts, US, with its witch history. See more at their official website for Halloween: Salem Haunted Happenings
Halloween in Asia:
The influence of Halloween has spread to Asia as well, at least to Japan, China, and South Korea. There is only a short history, say around 20 years of Halloween culture stepping into life there.
- In China, children learn about Halloween at school as an interesting part of Western culture (in some cases American culture). Some of them can enjoy the festival tradition in school activities such as dressing up a festival costume and sharing sweet treats with help from their enthusiastic parents. Trick-or-treat is known but not a big deal. For the grown-ups, there are costume parties at clubs for social people and also pumpkin carving workshops for arty youth.
- In Japan and South Korea, costume parade seems to be the most popular thing to do during Halloween. After all, Japan is the country of anime and cosplay and South Korea is famous for its cosmetics and makeup.
If you are in any of these countries to celebrate Halloween, don’t forget to try on the costume of Asian ghosts. Last but not least, have a taste of delicious street food.
No matter where you will be on the date of October 31st this year, I wish you a Happy Halloween. Experience the culture fully!