All Hallows’ Eve – Happy Halloween!

I hope everyone has a very safe and happy Halloween!

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. Y’all know I love holidays in general, but the magic of Halloween has always placed it at the top. I also love that it kind of “kicks off” the other holidays of this time of year, making it even more special to me.

So, for today, I’m here to give a brief history of Halloween, as well as a few traditions!

“Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1.

This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.”

Following Halloween is All Saints’ Day on November 1st and All Souls’ Day on November 2nd.

 

Now for some traditions!Soul Cakes

But what about the Halloween traditions and beliefs that today’s trick-or-treaters have forgotten all about? Many of these obsolete rituals focused on the future instead of the past and the living instead of the dead.

In particular, many had to do with helping young women identify their future husbands and reassuring them that they would someday—with luck, by next Halloween—be married. In 18th-century Ireland, a matchmaking cook might bury a ring in her mashed potatoes on Halloween night, hoping to bring true love to the diner who found it.

In Scotland, fortune-tellers recommended that an eligible young woman name a hazelnut for each of her suitors and then toss the nuts into the fireplace. The nut that burned to ashes rather than popping or exploding, the story went, represented the girl’s future husband. (In some versions of this legend, the opposite was true: The nut that burned away symbolized a love that would not last.)

Another tale had it that if a young woman ate a sugary concoction made out of walnuts, hazelnuts and nutmeg before bed on Halloween night she would dream about her future husband.

Young women tossed apple-peels over their shoulders, hoping that the peels would fall on the floor in the shape of their future husbands’ initials; tried to learn about their futures by peering at egg yolks floating in a bowl of water; and stood in front of mirrors in darkened rooms, holding candles and looking over their shoulders for their husbands’ faces.

Other rituals were more competitive. At some Halloween parties, the first guest to find a burr on a chestnut-hunt would be the first to marry; at others, the first successful apple-bobber would be the first down the aisle.

Halloween Traditions

Happy November, everyone! Can you believe I just said that? It seems like it was just May, and now we’ve officially passed by Halloween. Speaking of which, this post will be a little less on the etiquette side (though I’ll throw some in for good measure) and a little more on the traditions side of things. Also, I may step on some toes, and I apologize in advance if that’s the case.

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Truck-or-treat versus trick-or-treat. Sigh. I miss the good ol’ days. In all honesty, my trick-or-treating days were pretty light, considering my family lived in the boonies. However, we would make our way to town each All Hallow’s Eve to do door-to-door trick-or-treating. We never quite knew what to expect, and some of the houses were elaborately decorated.

This year I shared a similar experience with my kids. For the past month a house about a block from ours has had a four year-old stalker. Each night around 7:30 or 8:00, we would load up in my car, and we’d take a drive one block over to see a certain house. Now, even on an average day of the year this house is beautiful. Two stories with a second story screened porch. However, for the past month it’s also sported eyes on the windows, a 20’ tall Grim Reamer (as my daughter called it), a spider and a myriad of other Halloween decorations. It’s no surprise that the first house the kids wanted to visit was this one.

The surprise came later when very few of the homes had their porch light one. Even worse? Only about 2/3 of the ones that did were actually participating in Halloween. Listen. I get it. You’re not obligated to hand out candy to the princesses, ghosts and witches that come up to your home. However, Halloween etiquette does dictate that you kindly turn off your porch light. It’s one night a year. It won’t hurt anything.

Now here is where my theory goes a little further in two ways. First, trunk-or-treat takes out so much of the fun of trick-or-treating. The excited nervousness just isn’t there when you simply walk from car to car with your bag out. That’s not to say I wish that trunk-or-treats would go away completely. I fully respect that many religious groups disagree with Halloween. Can I share something with you, though? By trunk-or-treating, you’re still participating, no matter how much you try to church it up. My greatest wish regarding trunk-or-treats is simply that they wouldn’t be on Halloween night. #bringbackHalloween.

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“Trunk-or-treats are safer,” you might say. Well, that brings me to my next theory. I’m not quite sure which one is the chicken and which one is the egg, so bear with me for a bit. Trick-or-treating allows you to *gasp* get out in your own neighborhood. Thus, you meet your neighbors. If a house looks truly sketchy, don’t go to it. It’s likely their porch light isn’t one anyhow because they don’t want to the cops to notice their drug deals. However, last night we met some of the kindest people on our candy quest. We admired their homes in a way we never had before, we complimented their decorations and, in true Southern form, I thanked them for giving of their time to hand out candy. Yes, the kids thanked them for the candy, too.

Of course we still examined the candy once we were home, but I truly felt the people handing out candy enjoyed seeing the kids. Most were older folks who probably don’t get as many visitors as they once did. It’s a win-win.

Halloween is my favorite holiday for so many reasons. It, in my opinion, kicks off the holiday season. There’s so much unknown and excitement about it. It also is the best excuse to go around to your neighbors and have them come to you. I hope you’ll join me next year in bringing back an old fashioned Halloween. I’d love to hear your thoughts, even if they disagree with mine! Thank you for reading!