Autumn time in the UK is full of tradition. While the leaves are falling and the weather cools, pumpkin spice lattes make their return and fireworks are conveniently discounted. The biggest trend though, adopted from the States, is getting into fancy-dress and going trick-or-treating on Halloween night. To kick-off the spooky season at Global Connects, let’s see how this time of year is celebrated around the world, and as lovers of language, we will start with the origins of this cultural phenomenon and the word Halloween itself!
Scotland and Ireland
It is widely acknowledged that Halloween or Hallowe’en is derived from All Hallow’s Eve, which refers to the night before the feast of All Saints’ Day. However, this celebration is believed to have started with the ancient Celtic feast Samhain (pronounced saw-in), which marked the end of the Summer harvest and the beginning of Winter. At this time of year, it was believed to be easier for spirits to re-enter the living world. Sacrifices of livestock were made to appease the ghosts and large bonfires were built to ward off any unwelcome spirits. While fancy dress parties and guising (Scots word for trick-or-treating) is more accustom, these days, in Celtic countries, Samhain is still practiced by neo-Pagans and Wiccans today.
At this time of year, Mexicans are preparing for an even bigger celebration of life and death on the 2nd of November: Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Rather than a dark and gory atmosphere observed during Halloween, in Mexico this is a joyous occasion associated with bright colours, singing and dancing – you may be familiar with the sugar skull face painting donned by revellers at this occasion. Relatives clean and decorate gravesides and leave ofrendas (small offerings) on alters dedicated to loved ones who have passed on. To learn more about Día de los Muertos watch Disney’s “Coco” – but make sure you are well stocked up on tissues first!
Where else could you find a better backdrop for a Halloween party than Dracula’s own home? A castle in the small town of Bran, Transylvania, was the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s creation, and every year they host an unforgettable Halloween Party which boasts a tour of the castle itself and, of course, a costume contest. While, thankfully, blood is not on the menu, they do serve a traditional Transylvanian meal included in your ticket!
Wherever and however you are celebrating this year, Global Connects wishes you a Happy Halloween!