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When is Halloween 2019 and why do we celebrate it?

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The spookiest night of the year is just around the corner - here's all you need to know about why we celebrate from carving pumpkins to dressing up

October has arrived and that can only mean one thing - we are another month closer to Christmas.

Just kidding - kind of - but what we do mean is that the spookiest night of the year is just around the corner.

As Halloween approaches, all the shops will be decked out with all the latest costumes, party decorations and pumpkins whilst the city centre and local towns begin sprinkling a bit of gloomy but fun festive spirit around the place.

Whether you are off out trick or treating with the kids, heading to a big themed party or just sitting at home with sweets at the ready for a knock at the door, most of us will mark the annual occasion in some way.

But why do we actually celebrate Halloween.

Well, let us explain.

When is Halloween 2019?

Halloween, you guessed it, is on October 31 and it doesn't change each year.

This year it falls on a Thursday so it could be the start of a weekend long celebration.

Why do we celebrate Halloween?

The modern celebration of Halloween is the evening before the Christian holy day of All Hallows on November 1 and All Souls' Day on November 2.

It begins the three-day Allhallowtide, dedicated to remembering the dead, saints, martyrs and the faithful departed.

But many of the traditions and customs come from ancient Celtic festivals, including the Samhain and Brythonic festival of Calan Gaeaf.

Samhain, which means summer's end was a celebration of the end of harvest and the beginning of the winter.

Centuries ago people believed that seasonal transition resulted in a thinning of the boundary between the real world and spirit world allowing fairies and the dead to appear hence why being 'haunted' is so widely associated with Halloween.

Why do we have Halloween parties?

For some, there's every excuse for a good ol' knees up but actually, there is a particular reason why we host Halloween parties.

The spooky goings-on around the end of October prompted respect and fear among Celtic believers who even set places at the dinner table to welcome the souls of the dead.

The belief that the souls of the dead return home on one night of the year and must be appeased seems to have ancient origins and is found in many cultures throughout the world.

In 19th century Ireland communities would light candles and say prayers to appease the dead before eating, drinking, and playing games.

Over time rituals and games evolved including apple bobbing and mirror-gazing.

In the 12th century Christians developed the custom of 'Souling, baking and sharing soul cakes. Groups of poor people, often children go from house-to-house collecting cakes.

Why do we wear fancy dress?

As cute as it is to see your little one dressed as a pumpkin, or as scary as it is to bump into someone heading to a Halloween party dressed as if they should be in the film IT, dressing up for Halloween is part of both a medieval practice and also an ancient Celtic ritual.

It is most likely to have come from the medieval practice of mumming, which is like souling, and involved people in fancy dress and masks going door-to-door - just like what still happens today.

But dressing up was also an ancient Celtic ritual whereby people impersonated the the souls of the dead and received offerings on their behalf.

The development to dressing up and going door-to-door reciting poems or songs in exchange for food can be traced back to the 16th century in Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man and Wales.

Why do we trick-or-treat?

Whilst collecting sweets is a massive bonus, the tradition of a trick or prank dates back to Ireland and the Scottish Highlands in the 18th century when young people would threaten mischief if they were not rewarded.

Why do we carve pumpkins?

The most synonymous with Halloween, the concept of the carved pumpkin came from the traditional Irish Halloween turnip, known as a rutabaga lantern.

Traditionally, pranksters carved out grotesque faces and use them as lanterns.

They were common in Ireland and the Scottish Highlands in the 19th century, before spreading to England.

Immigrants to North America found the native pumpkin easier to carve and the tradition evolved and spread back to the UK.

 

This article was originally published on manchestereveningnews