Happy Halloween in 10 languages!
Hope you are going to have a good one, regardless of what you will be doing!
This year I am spending Hallowe’en in school, which is quite strange for me as we are always off for Hallowe’en at home in Ireland! Despite it becoming more of an opportunity to dress up rather than a religious or superstitious holiday, Hallowe’en is still given more importance in Ireland than in England, at least where I came from.
The origins of Hallowe’en lie in the pagan / Celtic tradition of Samhain, which was the end of the old year and the beginning of the New Year. It was the beginning of a three-day celebration during which the veil between worlds was thinner than usual, so people who had passed on could come back to visit and could hear you speak. For this reason it is said that you should never speak ill of the dead around Hallowe’en!
This belief is also at the root of Hallowe’en masks and costumes – some of the spirits who have come back to the land of the living might enjoy playing a few tricks on unwary humans, but, if you wore a mask, they might think that you were a spirit too and so would leave you alone! If you did have to venture out without a mask, you should at least turn your clothes inside out or carry iron in your pockets to protect you from any ‘wee folk’ trying to cause mischief!
As a child, we used to carve pumpkins and turnips (Spoiler: They’re very hard! We broke a number of spoons…) They were placed on either side of the door, with a lit candle inside, to make sure that no unwelcome spirits could cross the threshold of our home. I remember, as a child, being tasked with making sure that neither of the candles blew out, leaving our protection incomplete!
Samhain is/was one of the four big festivals in the Celtic year and would be celebrated with bonfires, candles being lit on graves and food being left as offerings – some of these traditions continue or have been amalgamated into Christian tradition.
In Irish mythology, Samhain was one of the great quarter festivals and, as such, would lead to a clan gathering where stories would be told and news exchanged. Cattle were brought down to the winter pastures and food stored away for the beginning of the colder season. Lots of stories I grew up with are set during Samhain, or start at this time of year.
It’s strange for me to now be in a country where Hallowe’en is mostly seen as nothing more than an excuse to get dressed up in a scary costume, yet looking back n the traditions of my home country also allows me to see how strange they might seem to those who have grown up without them!
How will you be spending Hallowe’en this year?
Do you have any traditions about Hallowe’en in your country?
Let me know in the comments!
Thanks for reading!