2,000 years ago, the ancient Celts believed that summer and the sun were leaving on the last night of October, and the world fell under the power of darkness. It was believed that on this day the god of the dead (Samhain) convened evil spirits who had lived in the bodies of animals for the past year. And on the night of the first of November, Samhain was celebrated.
It was believed that Samhain opened the gates to the future. “On October 31, summer was replaced by winter, day by night, life by death, and all the barriers between the material and supernatural worlds were removed, the gates between them opened for one night. Two elements become available in the present. " Samhain was considered the day when evil spirits, demons, goblins, came to the surface and with the greatest ease could pass into the material world. Druids - priests, uttering spells, made fires, and the peasants went around the houses with torches. After the prayer, everyone returned to the festive table, where an excellent cumin cake was waiting for them. Baked apples and spiced ales were also served at the table.
In the XI century, Great Britain adopted Catholicism, and the ancient feast of Samhain became the eve of All Saints Day, thanks to Pope Gregory III, who transferred the Catholic All Saints Day from May 13 to November 1, thus uniting the old and new traditions.
It is believed that Halloween was introduced to America by the first Irish immigrants. On this day, people dressed in costumes of witches and devils, "representatives" of another evil force, frightened and played off each other, carried with them hollow pumpkins with a cut grin and a candle inside, symbolizing restless sinful souls.
According to another version, Mexicans moved their national peculiarity of celebrating Halloween in the United States of America. In San Francisco, for example, people from Mexico pay tribute to the deceased every year through a colorful festival. Its culmination is the night procession through the city.
The modern version of the holiday appeared in the XIX century, and became popular primarily in the United States. The first major cities where the celebration of Halloween was held in the 1920s were New York and Los Angeles. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was on this very day that the vandalism was organized, which was later replaced by extortion of sweets and singing songs. (Now in America there is a special code of safety regarding what kind of sweets can be given to children and which not. Candy should always be wrapped.)
Now there are funny masks and tricks left from the ancient tradition, as well as the custom to arrange masquerades. Americans are waiting for this holiday with the same impatience as Christmas. After all, Halloween in the United States is, in fact, an All-American carnival, for which people prepare costumes ahead of time.
Having taken over the old tradition, American cinema gave the world a lot of funny, sometimes scary, and sometimes funny movies about this holiday. The most interesting thing is that whatever the plot of these films, the main idea remains the same: the forces of good always defeat evil, and rightly so.
In Canada, the holiday is called Halloween, and it continues the tradition of Samhain.
These days all the most unusual happens. In Canada, like in the USA, Halloween is a “masque festival”. People wear masks and go to the streets of the city, decorated in the appropriate style. Now the most popular heroes are George W. Bush and Osama Bin Laden.
Something about pumpkin. Pumpkin is an American element of Halloween. In Europe, pumpkins are often replaced with beets or apples. It is known that the pumpkin is a native of the American continent. But, oddly enough, the pumpkin is very suitable for Halloween. It is interesting that now, in Baltimore (USA), a kind of "pumpkin throws" are being held for physics students - a competition for the most durable invention that will allow the pumpkin not to crash when falling from the 10th floor.
The most common version of the appearance of the tradition of making a pumpkin lamp: according to legend, a certain sly Jack deceived the devil by forcing him to climb a tree and draw a cross on the trunk so that he could not descend. When Jack died, he, of course, was not taken to heaven for all his sins, but he was also denied in hell because he had outwitted the devil himself. Jack was given only one glowing ember with which he could light his further endless journey amid icy darkness. This ember and put in a small pumpkin so that it burned longer. And now such a pumpkin is called “Jack-o-Lantern”.
No less favorite this holiday is in modern Europe.
In Germany, Halloween is not the main holiday, however, begin to prepare for it since September. To date, he has acquired the status of a costume holiday. Across the country, children dress up as witches, vampires, or other creepy heroes. In Germany, children do not go to their neighbors and do not ask for sweets, as is done in many countries. For them, holidays are arranged with disguise in schools and kindergartens. But all this in the afternoon ...
And in the castle of Frankenstein the most grandiose performance dedicated to this holiday takes place. Up to 20,000 visitors rush to the castle ruins every year in order to be scared and terrified, as Halloween collects a huge number of ghosts and ghosts jumping from round the corner under the cover of night.
In Britain, before the beginning of the 20th century, fires were lit on Halloween according to pagan custom. Nowadays they do it on November 5, on the anniversary of the Powder Conspiracy, and the celebration of Halloween is limited to traditional pumpkins.
In France, Halloween is a good tradition. The streets of all the cities of France turn into a real fairy tale. Unlike Britain, the pumpkin as a halloween attribute in France caught on. In the streets, passers-by everywhere are looking at empty eye sockets of pumpkins. In restaurants and cafes stormy celebrations do not stop until the very morning. In all the bakeries and pastry shops in France on this day, you can buy a "cake of all saints", decorated with images of saints.
As you can see, Halloween (Samhain) is a very ancient holiday, it has deep roots, and therefore it is popular all over the world. And yet - this is an ancient New Year, and the New Year is perhaps the most beloved holiday of all nations!