When most people think of Halloween, they think of trick or treating, costumes parties, parades, bobbing for apples, carving pumpkins, pranks, haunted houses, lots of monster related activities, and in my case, horror movie marathons as a teenager.
But the thing is that Halloween has history reaching back almost two thousand years. Many believe that it originated with the ancient festival of Samhain, something the Celts practiced every November 1st to help ward off ghosts and other spirits. They would dress up in costumes and light bonfires to achieve the proper ritual.
It wasn’t until the eighth century or so that the Catholic Church decided to change November 1st into a day to honour saints, effectively known as All Saints Day, and it even took on some of the elements of Samhain. Which, a lot of Christian holidays have been prone to do. Incorporate a pagan holiday into its fold, to help the people digest the practice better. But that’s something I could spend more than a whole post unto itself on, so we’ll move on, for now.
With that change over, the preceding night became All Hallows Eve and it was celebrated as such until the Reformation in the sixteenth century.
All Hallows Eve-olution
With the puritanical element introduced, the theology of All Hallows Eve was redefined and the ghosts came to represent evil spirits. After all, many Protestants believe that there was no purgatory, only Heaven and Hell, thusly spirits were demons and incredibly threatening.
As people immigrated to North America in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, the Irish and Scottish peoples brought their version of Halloween with them, watering it down and assimilating it into the mainstream of secular holidays.
Because of this practice, people focused instead on the symbols and rituals as acts of entertainment, maintaining the elements of fear and acknowledgment of the unknown. When the age of adulthood shifted from 13 to 18, more observances shifted towards children and their development, and thus costuming, craft, and activities became a celebration for them.
Let’s be clear for a second, my dear sweet treats, costuming eventually became the focal point and with that shift towards creativity, the tone of the event shifted to one of creativity and inclusion. It’s kind of amazing when you think about it. Out of the unknown and fear developed an event that celebrates the supernatural.
Which is why you probably shouldn’t dress in racist attire. Yeah, that’s right you thought this was gonna be a informative post, but I twisted it around on ya.
I’m not going to wax a ton of poetic on this but consider avoiding the following before you decided to embark on a party or three this weekend.
- Turning a racial stereotype into a costume
- Hyper-sexualization of women and hyper-sexualization of male genitals
- Mockery of a group of people or individuals
There is absolutely no reason to offend or induce harm on others during this holidays, no one wins when you do it, and in fact it reduces individuals into debased identities which they are forced to accept or react violently against. It’s super uncool and perpetuate the flaws of culture without helping us to move forward. But that’s just a theory after all.
Enjoy your weekend friends, and I’ll be back on Sunday with something rather stimulating.