Halloween 101. Reasons to Throw a Ghoulish Bash!
Release the Ghosts!
The Americans alone spend $9 billion on Halloween. It puts famine into perspective! Those familiar with my posts would understand why my face “fell off” when I read this fact in a news article. My otherwise fierce courage deserted me in my hour of need: I dared not look for a global statistic. I care about my face! 😄
Well, I understand societal consumerism and the urge to party for whatever reason, and I get it even more in the fateful (first) year of the pandemic. I accept both reasons even when they apply to nations that had absolutely nothing to do with this mainly American holiday until a decade ago but adopted it for it offers yet another reason to throw a monster (pun!) party.
Romanians, for instance, fill this description, but we have a good excuse: we love a rave, hey! Suppose the government would one day deem it right to declare, I don’t know, May 14th the National Odd Slipper and Pinocchio’s Nose Day. I’m pretty sure the nation will be quick to drag their feet in odd slippers and sport some twig protruding from between their ears to some organised party, even with quarantine rules imposed by said government.
My dilemma is, out of so many billion people on the planet, how many have a clue what the hell they are celebrating to justify the colossal amount of money spent for one evening?
The six people who already know can stop reading now and go on with their routine. For the rest of us, I did some research and put a few facts together in this Halloween 101. I’ll be quick; this is the shortest post I’ll ever write, I promise.
Here goes Halloween 101:
- It is otherwise known as the evening before All Saints Day. In essence, a Druid (old and mystical religion of Celtic tribes in ancient Ireland) end-of-summer celebration married to a Dark Age Pope’s decision to move The All Saints Day from May 13th to November 1st. Peace over millennia of dissension between pagan and Christian, in essence. Totally worth a drink or two and some cash spent on a latex costume. I could not find any information on prehistoric similarities, but it would be so cool if anyone had the knowledge and would like to share it! After all, the Celts who migrated to what is today the UK initially lived in Central Europe. Also, large amounts of Celtic DNA was found in people still living in northern Romania, but no archaeological discoveries to even start a new theory.
- It marked the Celt’s New Year’s Eve. It was the night when ghosts returned among the living. The Druid Lord of Darkness, Samhain, allegedly chased the spirits around the towns to get them back to where they belonged. This possibly has provided, two thousand years later, the most popular Halloween costume ideas: ghosts, skeletons, witches and vampires.
- Speaking of vampires, who, as we all know, reside in Transylvania, a spooky region of Romania, ever enveloped in mysterious fog, where people wear garlic necklaces and always watch over their shoulder for a dark silhouette of a certain Mr Dracula. (I’m joking, it’s mostly sunny over there, and the people are actually quite trendy, although they love garlic, in foods!) Yes, the Romanians have serious reasons to celebrate Halloween! They should only do so on November 29th, on St. Andrew’s Day (the saint patron of wolves), for this is the spooky time when the gates of heaven open for the ghosts to come down on Earth and create havoc among the wolves and the vampires – the unfortunate ghouls caught in purgatory and messing badly with the living. The day officially marks the beginning of winter, when the evil spirits will look to steal future crops’ power. The people have tried everything in their power to thwart the malefic forces’ action. Apparently, garlic provided the best results; keep this in mind if you happen to run into Dracula one day. Luckily, he’s too fancy and easily offended by the pungent stench of an otherwise healthy veggie, a veritable natural antibiotic. Hmm, I wonder now, would an injection with penicillin work as a deterrent for vampire bites? And what do you do if you try that and it turns out your vampire has a penicillin allergy? I would probably act on instinct and call 999, forgetting the damned initial reason!
- What’s with the pumpkins an’ all? Well, it seems to be a modern adaptation to an ancient tradition. The Irish used to carve turnips and make them into candles to keep the dark forces at bay. When they emigrated to America, they realised that a pumpkin makes more sense for this purpose and adjusted the tradition. A previous legend has something to do with a drunkard called Stingy Jack, who made a pact with the devil, and after death got stuck between the worlds, that’s why he carries a candled carved pumpkin to lighten his ways.
- In some cultures, including the Romanian one, women believed that their future husbands would show in their dreams on All Hallows Eve. It might sound a bit fishy if you are a nonbeliever; perhaps it is the “trick” part of the “trick-or-treat”. Just sayin’; I believe in everything, including dreams! And why shouldn’t I when my most recurrent one is that I’m still cruising? Not bad for a nightmare, eh? 😋
- All the rest is a modern adaptation to a probably way older tradition for which there is no available information. I debated this problem and gave my honest opinion on how much we know and how much we don’t know here.
At the end of my research, I’m still shocked at the amount of money spent on Halloween. Even in full pandemics, the spending did not drop dramatically; it still reached a little over 8 billion in 2020. I am confident it won’t change much in 2022 either, recession or not. We are all fed up and most likely will retaliate, throwing stashes of heating or petrol money left and right!
Still, the conclusion is a positive one: after millennia of war, conquest, domination and global migration, we humans are all united and finally agree on something: any reason is good enough – especially Halloween – to throw a bash and spend insane amounts of cash on a pagan-converted-Christian-converted-commercial holiday!
Eat (quirky treat recipes provided here), drink, release the ghosts and be spooky!
Have a ghoulish Halloween, y’all! Boo! And don’t call me ’till Monday; my hangovers bloody love to hang on!
This post does not intend to offend, educate or anything else beyond cracking a smile from the reader. For more profound insights and referencing purposes, these were my sources:
https://www.history.com/topics/halloween/history-of-halloween. Accessed 30/10/2020
http://www.holidayinsights.com/halloween/facts.htm. Accessed 30/10/2020
https://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/media/articles/truth-about-halloween/. Accessed 30/10/2020
https://www.historia.ro/sectiune/general/articol/de-unde-vine-sarbatoarea-de-halloween. Accessed 30/10/2020.