Halloween Trick or treat Fun and Scare - By: Abida Rahmani

It is again Halloween time in N. America . The houses , stores and malls decorated with horror themes and plenty of creepy and frightening creatures. Pumpkins , hay stock , colored corn symbolise the harvest and fall season but what about the graveyards , tombstones, spiders, webs death and horror. Making a fun of death and fear and enjoying it could only be done in the safer societies , where death and horror is a seldom commodity.

America has adopted new trends for fun and activity and the whole world just follow them blindly. These are the days for celebrating Halloween. They do not care what the myth behind it is? They just want to have fun. The fun is in showing death, ghosts and witches, grave yards, Jack-o-lantern, spider webs, bats and so on. You can imagine about all the scary things to be shown in Halloween. One can see a lot of Halloween décor around. Then there are candies, costumes and Halloween parties. Some of the people decorate the whole house in Halloween theme. I used to work at a fabric store, a month ahead of Halloween by the end of September all the rolls of black fabric and with spider pattern were sold out and they ordered a lot more to meet the demand. All the major or small stores sell out products for Halloween theme. Every year new scary skeletons, ghosts and dreadful images are invented to attract the consumers and kids. In fact it is a great marketing strategy to keep the consumers involved in spending and buying. With all the down turn in economy and recession one do not see any change for celebrations.
What is Halloween and where did it come from?
Halloween today is defined by children going house to house on the night of October 31st, dressed up in a variety of costumes collecting treats. Although Halloween may seem like a time for children to have fun carving pumpkins and collecting candy, not many know the origins of this ‘festival’ and its traditions that date back centuries.
The origins of Halloween date back to the time of the Celtics or ‘Celts’. They were a group occupying the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Northern France about 2,000 years ago. This group celebrated their new year on November 1st. This day marked the end of the summer and was reflected upon as a time of darkness and cold as winter approached. The Celtics associated this dark time of year with death.
On October 31st (the Celtic New Year’s Eve) they celebrated a festival called Samhain. This celebration was supported by the belief that the ghosts of the dead roamed the earth. Priests (‘Druids’) were believed to be able to communicate with these ghostly spirits and tell the future by doing so; by telling the ‘future’ many were given hope for the long, dark winter ahead. The Priests built large fires on this night and the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities/gods. During the festival they wore animal heads and skins as costumes.
Customs Dressing up in costumes: This was done so that the ‘spirits of the dead’ would not recognize people. It was also done by people imitating supernatural beings that were believed to roam the earth at that time.
Trick-or-treating: The Priests/Druids would go from house to house on October 31st and demand specific types of food (to offer to the spirits in order to calm them). If their demands were not met, it was believed the people and their homes would be cursed with trouble, sickness, and death. Prosperity was promised to those who generously donated (hence the phrase, ‘trick or treat’, implying a demand for treats or else a certain consequence would have to be given).
Jack-o'-lantern: This started off as a legend associated with a man of Irish origin named Jack who supposedly enjoyed playing pranks on the Devil. The legend states that after his death, Jack did not go to Heaven or Hell and therefore, had to wander the earth carrying a lantern, providing him with some light to see where he was going. Pumpkins that were hollowed out and had candles lit inside were representative of this legend. They were also supposed to scare evil spirits away (this is why odd looking faces are carved on the pumpkins).
Bats & Black cats: These animals were believed to communicate with the dead. It is also believed black cats were able to house the souls of witches.
How Halloween came into Christianity
By the 800s A.D., the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1st as All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas, (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints' Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be known as
All-hallows Eve or Holly Eve (because it was the eve of a holy celebration the next day) and eventually, Halloween.
Quick Fact: The word Halloween does not appear in the bible at all. Jeremiah 10:02 clearly warns: “Do not follow the ways of other heathens (pagans)”.
Halloween Today Each year people spend billions of dollars on candy and costumes at this time of year. A survey conducted by BIGresearch found that an estimated $3.29 billion was spent on this holiday in 2005. In a world stricken with poverty and malnutrition in many underprivileged countries, this amount seems rather Ridiculous to be spent on candy and costumes.
Quick Facts: In 2003, the major pumpkin producing states in America produced an estimated 805 million pounds, valued at $81 million.
United Nations World Food Program - more than 800 million people go to bed without food everyday - one child dies every five seconds in the world form hunger and other related causes
Many devil worshippers and occult groups now ritualistically recognize Halloween as the Devil’s Day. Over 60% of costumes are sold to adults who become outrageous exhibitionists.
Halloween in America and Canada
European immigrants brought their rituals and customs with them to America. There are actually few accounts of Halloween in colonial American history due in part to the large Protestant presences in the Northern colonies and their strict religious beliefs. However, down in the Southern colonies where larger, more mixed European communities had settled, there are some accounts of Halloween celebrations mixing with Native American harvest celebrations. In the mid 1800s, nearly two million Irish immigrants fleeing potato famine helped shape Halloween into an even more widely celebrated event. Scottish immigrants celebrated with fireworks, telling ghost stories, playing games and making mischief. There were games such as bobbing for apples, dooking, the dropping of forks on apples without using hands, and Puccini, an Irish fortune-telling game using saucers. Young women were frequently told if they sat in dark rooms and gazed into a mirror, the face of their future husbands would appear, however, if a skull appeared, the poor girl would be destined to die before marriage. Most pranks and mischief were the work of naughty children rather than spirits as once believed. Halloween As A Communal Celebration
By the 1900s, the focus had shifted from a religious holiday to a more communal celebration. "Guising" was actually a practice dating back to the middle ages, when the poor would go around asking for food or money. Borrowing from the English and Irish traditions, children adopted the practice of guising and would dress up in costumes, but there are only isolated references to children actually going door to door asking for food or money during Halloween. Instead parties were held and had a more festive atmosphere with colorful costumes. The frightening and superstitious aspects of Halloween had diminished somewhat, and Halloween in America was slowly shedding some of the old European traditions favoring more light-hearted celebrations. Trick or Treat Despite the good natures of some people, Halloween pranks and mischief had become a huge problem in the 1920s and 1930s, mostly because the pranks often turned into vandalism, property damage and even physical assaults. Bad kids and even organizations such as the KKK, used the Halloween as an excuse to engage in criminal activity. Schools and communities did the best they could to curb vandalism by encouraging the "trick or treat" concept. The Boy Scouts got into the act by organizing safe events like school carnivals and local neighborhood trick or treat outings for children, hoping this would stir troublemakers away. But the Trick or Treat idea did face some controversy, as some parents and community leaders would take a stance that Trick or Treat was along the same lines as extortion, either the homes gave children "treats" or the families would be maliciously targeted with "tricks" for not complying. Regardless, by the late 30s, vandalism was decreasing as more and more children opted to partake in Trick or Treat. The earliest known print of the words "Trick or Treat" did not occur until 1934, when a Portland, Oregon newspaper ran an article about how Halloween pranks kept local police officers on their toes. There would be sporadic instances of the phrase "Trick or Treat" used in the media during the 1930s, eventually making its way onto Halloween cards. But the practice we see today, children dressed in costume, going house to house saying "Trick or Treat" did not really come about until the mid 1940s. Today, those original vintage Halloween cards depicting the "Trick or Treat" words are collector's items. The First Halloween Celebrations Anoka, Minnesota, a.k.a the "Halloween Capital of the World," was the first city in America to officially hold a Halloween celebration, in an effort to divert kids from pulling pranks like tipping outhouses and letting cows loose to run around on Main Street. The town organized a parade and spent the weeks prior planning and making costumes. Treats of popcorn, peanuts and candy to children who participated in the parade, followed by a huge bonfire in the town
square. The event grew over time and has been held every year since 1920 except 1942 and 1943 when festivities were cancelled due to World War II. These days Anoka, holds elaborate Halloween festivals with a parade, carnivals, costume contests, house decorating, and other community celebrations, living up to its self-proclaimed title of "Halloween Capital of the World." Salem, Massachusetts, associated mostly with witches due in part to its long and sometimes torrid history, also lays claim to the title. Many historians quietly back away from that debate leaving the two cities to duke it out for themselves. Halloween in Modern America The popularity of Halloween has increased year after year. Television, movies, and other media outlets have helped Halloween grow into America's second largest commercial holiday, which brings in an estimated $6.9 billion dollars annually. Watching horror movies and visiting haunted attractions, real haunts or haunted theme parks is a popular modern way to celebrate the evening. Just as it was in the colonial times, Halloween in America is a melting pot of everything that is Halloween. There is no correct way to celebrate the holiday. Overzealous religious and social organizations have unsuccessfully tried to squash the holiday by spreading lies or rumors hoping to tarnish the image of Halloween by associating it with evil. The truth is there are many unsubstantiated reports and rare attacks on ordinary citizens in the way of razorblades in apples or kidnappings and killings for satanic rituals. Most myths are created to simply prey on human fears, sometimes for fun and sometimes to railroad thoughts and beliefs to serve the purpose of a select few. The biggest challenge facing today's 38 million trick or treaters is staying safe in a world where the criminal types use Halloween as an excuse to act on deviant behavior. Many school and local communities will organize trick or treating in shopping malls, especially in neighborhoods where gang activity is prevalent. Parent worries in even the safe neighborhoods have adopted this practice as well. It saves money in the long run and is safe for all those involved and is slowly becoming the preferred way to celebrate in these volatile times. Some have argued that Halloween has lost its spiritual meaning due to all the corporate and media influences. In this technology driven world, it's important to remember that along with society, even holidays are subject to evolution. No matter what people choose to do, no matter what cultural, spiritual or material way, as long as people celebrate in a safe and happy way, the spirit of Halloween in America will endure for ages. But it's always nice to take a look back at history and learn how it all began.
That is at least a great idea that at schools and other educational institutes it is called fall festival and kids are taken for pumpkin patch tours.
All over the world in new and ancient times the change of seasons and crops is celebrated in different ways. Saving the crops from destruction from uncanny things was a great concern always because it was there main source of food and sustenance .Therefore they celebrated their success and happiness for their fruits and grains. Some of them celebrate in dancing, singing, cooking and other festivities. In many cultures there are different traditions in different parts of the world.
I like the change of season or the fall décor with pumpkins, corns and hay. Candies, sweets and pumpkin pie are not a bad idea either.
hen we think about the other countries of the world where death , destruction and hunger is so much in abundance. Dozens of people are killed innocently every day all over the countries by so much violence politically, internally and internationally. We look at Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, and Kashmir and now Pakistan for the death toll and wonder if showing death, skulls, horror and skeletons could be a fun?
But it could be fun for the rich and safer societies for a change.

Posted on Oct 19, 18 | 11:48 pm