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My Blog

The Tradition of Halloween

Good morning and Happy Halloween.  It is finally here.  A day children look forward to.  Unfortunately here in the Chicagoland area, it is supposed to have thunderstorms all day. That will surely put a damper on the kids trick or treating.  I hope that the perhaps will get a window of opportunity to be able to go out later in the day!
As for today's blog, I got to thinking the other day about how long  Halloween has been around. 
Folklore has it that Halloween is said to have its roots in paganism in Europe, before the beginning of Christianity. It was to symbolize the start of winter; the burning of leaves, and purifying by fire, everything that is evil or old.
It has been attributed by scholars as the origin of Halloween to harvest festivals of the Celtic culture and pagan festivals that commemorate the dead. The celebration is particularly connected with the Roman feast called Pomona and a Celtic festival known as Samhain.
Samhain is a harvest festival celebrated around the world on October 31 (Northern Hemisphere) and November 1 (Southern Hemisphere). It marks the end of harvest, and thus, that of the lighter half of the year. Thus, at the same time, it marks the start of the darker half of the year. Celebrations of this festival are similar to most of Halloween's, such as Guising and Apple bobbing
In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get together than about ghosts, pranks and witchcraft. At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties were focused on games, foods of the time of year and festive costumes. Parents were encouraged by newspapers and community leaders to take anything "frightening" or "grotesque" out of Halloween celebrations.  Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones by the beginning of the twentieth century due to this.
It was originally known as All Hallow's Eve around the 16th Century.  The first celebration known to be held in the United States was in Anoka, Minnesota in 1920
The first officially store bought costumes began in the year 1930.  Before then handmade costumes were the rage.  I feel that today, people are becoming more and more creative with their costumes.  Now with the computer...it is so easy to find ideas to help you along. 
But what about the Halloween traditions and beliefs that today's trick-or-treaters have forgotten all about? Many of these obsolete rituals focused on the future instead of the past and the living instead of the dead. It is interesting to me that  in particular, many had to do with helping young women identify their future husbands and reassuring them that they would someday—with luck, by next Halloween—be married. In 18th-century Ireland, a matchmaking cook might bury a ring in her mashed potatoes on Halloween night, hoping to bring true love to the diner who found it. In Scotland, fortune-tellers recommended that an eligible young woman name a hazelnut for each of her suitors and then toss the nuts into the fireplace. The nut that burned to ashes rather than popping or exploding, the story went, represented the girl's future husband. (In some versions of this legend, confusingly, the opposite was true: The nut that burned away symbolized a love that would not last.) Another tale had it that if a young woman ate a sugary concoction made out of walnuts, hazelnuts and nutmeg before bed on Halloween night she would dream about her future husband. Young women tossed apple-peels over their shoulders, hoping that the peels would fall on the floor in the shape of their future husbands' initials; tried to learn about their futures by peering at egg yolks floating in a bowl of water; and stood in front of mirrors in darkened rooms, holding candles and looking over their shoulders for their husbands' faces. Other rituals were more competitive. At some Halloween parties, the first guest to find a burr on a chestnut-hunt would be the first to marry; at others, the first successful apple-bobber would be the first down the aisle.  There are still superstitions and still traditions that are carried on by many. Paths that  black cats walking in front of you should never be crossed , never walk under a ladder, breaking a mirror can cause 7 years of bad luck.  Superstitions, by some are still held onto.  Whether they are true or not it totally up to you. 
So have a safe Halloween today.  Trick or treat...smell my feet, give me something good to eat.  Let's enjoy a safe day and pray that it is a day in history where no bad comes from it, or that anyone is harmed because of it.  Let it be a day of fun for children to enjoy.

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