BY EMMANUEL BIGOMBE
A cloaked figure stretches out a tiny hand and opens its palm in demand of sugary tribute. Backing away you brush against a witch who gives a grunt of disapproval. She is in too much of a rush to lay a curse upon you as she has her 3 little minions in tow, a cheeky skeletal figure, a somewhat distracted vampire and… Spiderman? This could be any street just about anywhere on October 31st; worldwide Halloween festivities abound.
Halloween traditions can be traced back to the ancient Celtic custom of Samhain that marked the end of the harvest from between October 31st and November 1st, during which it was believed the boundary between the world of the dead and the living disappeared. As with many pagan customs the spread of Christianity gave it new meaning and it was then observed as All Hallows Eve, a remembrance of saints, martyrs and the departed. All Hallows’ Eve then also known as Allhalloween was further shortened to Halloween.
Trick or Treating, Jack-o-Lanterns, costumes and parties are the hallmarks most associated with Halloween celebrations today, all with their own fascinating beginnings. Trick or Treating can be traced back to the English medieval practice of souling, when on Halloween groups of soulers would beg the rich for soul cakes in exchange for prayers for their souls. In
19th century Scotland and Ireland, children in costumes went door to door asking for food and coins and carried carved turnip Jack-o- Lanterns to frighten evil spirits away.
The celebration of Halloween as we know it evolved in the United States in the early 20th century. In the 1920s and 30’s Halloween became a community wide holiday with parties and entertainment. By the 1950s, by diluting the supernatural overtones, it evolved into the family friendly occasion which is today celebrated in over 20 regions of the world each with their unique twist.