The Origins of the Halloween Party

Where does the word « Halloween » come from ?

The word “Halloween” stems from an English expression: "All Hallow Even" which means the eve of the feast of the saints.

Why do we celebrate Halloween on October 31st?

If we go back in History , Halloween party is of celtic origin. In the celts ( ancestor of the Irish, Welsh and Scottish ), October 31st was New Year’s Eve : the Samain, which announces the end and the beginning of the Celtic year. That day, the legend says that the ghosts of the dead mingle with the living.

One of the beliefs associated with this party is to leave food at the gates of villages and offer it to ghosts to appease their spirits.

Over the years, this tradition turned into a party for children. They, disguised as ghosts, go door to door asking for candies.

In 1840, with the emigration of the Irish to the United States, the tradition crossed the ocean and that’s why today, October 31st of each year, our streets are invaded by little monsters looking for sweets.

Why pumpkins ?

Originally, the hallmark of Halloween was .... a turnip! From the legend Jack o 'lantern, condemned to wander eternally in the darkness between hell and paradise while lighting up a shrine set in a carved turnip. In United States, the turnip has been gradually replaced by the pumpkin that grows in October and is much easier to carve. So the pumpkin gave its orange color to the current version of Halloween!

« Trick or treat »

The english expression « trick or treat » comes from an old European custom that was called « souling».

Beggars went from village to village asking « soul cakes » which were made of square breads with raisins. If they received a lot of cakes, they promised a lot of prayers for the souls of the deceased donor’s parents.

It was believed that the souls of the dead remained for a moment in their bodies, and prayers, even by strangers, could guarantee the soul’s passage to heaven.

A popular cinematographic genre

We like to scare each other for Halloween. What's better than a good horror movie? The hollywood directors have understood this well: films or series on the theme of the supernatural / horror and making them appear before halloween can only be a success. You may be watching or have already seen these different movies : « The Addams family » by Barry Sonnenfeld « It » an adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, « Insidious » and « Conjuring » by James Wan, the trilogy « Ghostbuster » by Paul Feig, the famous « The Texas Chain Saw Massacre » by Tobe Hooper, « Casper » by Brad Silberling, « The Nightmare before Christmas » by Tim Burton inspired by Jack o’ lantern, « The Purge or American Nightmare» by James DeMonaco. Young and old, everyone is there on Halloween party.

Halloween : a commercial party ?

Nowadays, Halloween is more considered as a commercial holiday like Christmas and Easter. Some advertisers do not hesitate to create terrifying spots to promote a "special halloween" range. For example, the M & M's brand released in 2013 a series of dark chocolate and orange candies. The shops of jokes and pranks, of decorations origianles boustent their turnover of the preceding week halloween. 83% of French people find this festival too marketting.

Now you are unbeatable on the halloween legends.

Happy Halloween !!

Loïs Laumonnier

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