Monday, October 31, 2011

Origins of Halloween

Most people associate Halloween as being American but really, it originated from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in), when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming spirits. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 01 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints’ Day, incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a secular, community-based event characterized by fun activities such as trick-or-treating, costumed parties and sweet treats.

Every October, carved pumpkins peer out from porches and doorsteps in the US and some parts of the world. Gourd-like orange fruits inscribed with ghoulish faces and illuminated by candles are a sure sign of the Halloween season. The practice of decorating “jack-o’-lanterns” – the name comes from an Irish folktale about a man named Stingy Jack (read it at webpage – originated in Ireland, where large turnips and potatoes served as an early canvas. Irish immigrants brought the tradition to America, home of the pumpkin, and it became an integral part of Halloween festivities.

And Halloween has invaded other countries – not just Malaysia but elsewhere. In Hungary, Halloween began in 2009 when the locals displayed their handmade pumpkin lanterns in Hosok tere (Heroes Square). Check out the official website of the Budapest Halloween Lantern Festival: or TokLampasFesztival.husee these photos of the lit-up pumpkins during the Pumpkin Lantern Festival in Heroes Square, Budapest on October 29, 2011:

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