Happy Halloween

Halloween PumpkinsHappy Halloween!

What a beautiful day! It’s 21C(70F) outside, sunny, and simply amazing! Sorry to rub it in, Chicago. I hear there’s some pretty horrible stuff going through today for you guys. Glad I’m not there right now!

So, Halloween. A commercialised, Hallmark holiday that gives kids an excuse to dress up for candy, and adults the chance to dress up to party. Good enough excuses for me.

There are some marked differences between the US and UK on Halloween, I’m noticing. The origin of Halloween comes from All Hallows’ Eve, which is a Christianized feast initially influenced by Celtic harvest Soul cakesfestivals, with possible pagan(probably Gaelic Samhain) roots. I learned all about this during a Celtic Mythology course taken at University College Cork in Ireland. Interesting course, but I digress. The “important” part, the trick-or-treating, is believed to have come from an old religious practise called “souling”. Likewise, the disguises(costumes) originated from “guising” in Scotland and Ireland and from “mumming” in Germany, Scandanavia, and other parts of Europe. Time for a quick, but interesting, history lesson.

“Souling”, which was practised until approximately the 1930’s, was a Christian custom which involved groups of people that were usually poor and either Protestant or Catholic. These groups would go from parish to parish, begging for soul cakes in exchange for praying for the souls of the givers and their friends.Mummers Similarly, “guising” has been recorded from the 1890’s onwards, where people in Scotland and Ireland would masquerade themselves, carrying lanterns made from scooped out turnips and visiting homes to be rewarded with cakes, fruit, and money. “Mumming”, on the other hand, involved a similar fancy dress costume, but involved people parading the streets and entering homes to dance or play dice in silence.

There you have it. A quick overview of where Halloween came from. So back to the differences between the US and UK. Halloween in the US has become a very commercial holiday filled with costumes, parties, and candy. There is little or no connection to any religion and unless it’s a booze-filled costume party, adults rarely partake in the festivities. Here, the holiday has become much of a mix. There are still many religious festivities and the day is often referred to as All Hallows Eve, as it has historically been known. Rituals for the dead/souls of the dead are still performed on the days surrounding, and celebrations are much more abundant for the general public. There are many costumes, but it’s much less commercialised and the candy flows a lot less. I’m sure part of it is lifestyle and safety as well, but kids just don’t go trick-or-treating like they do in the US.

Anyway, enough of my ramblings. Time to get our celebration on at the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens Fire Festival! Watch for an update on how it went later on!