Table of Contents
Etymology & Meaning of the word "Halloween"
"Hallow" is short for "hallowed" and it means holy.
"E'en" is short for "evening".
Hence, "Halloween" means: "holy evening."
If Halloween is a HOLY evening, why do so many people think that Halloween is the night of the Devil? I don't know, except maybe because of Hollywood. In reality, Halloween has nothing to do with the Devil. The concept of a Devil is a Judaeo-Christian concept. Halloween actually stems from an Irish Celtic Holy Night called Sam-whain [pronounced: Sahm-wane]. It means "summer wanes".
[sam = sum(mer), whain = wanes]
History of Halloween
(and the Day of the Dead)
There was a group of people living on what is now known as Ireland (and the British Isles), called Celts. The religious leaders of the Celts were called Druids. On the last day of the Celtic calendar (which is October 31 by the Roman Gregorian calendar), after sundown, it was believed that Hel (who is Loki's daughter and gatekeeper of the Underworld) opened the gates of the Underworld and let all the spirits of the dead roam the land of the living (but only for that one night every year).
It was believed that MOST of the spirits of the deceased were harmless; however, some of the spirits of the deceased were considered to be wicked or might have been enemies of the family. So, in order for the living to protect themselves from the wicked spirits, the Celts made scary lanterns out of a kind of radish called a "turnip," and placed the 'jack-o-lanterns' in front of their houses to scare away all wicked spirits.
Source of information: Encyclopedia Britannica and History Channel
When Christianity came to the British Isles in 432 A.D., the Catholics tried to change such pagan practices, and they initiated a three-day holiday called "All_Hallowed_Tide," which consists of three days. They were: (1) "All-Saints' Eve (on the night of October 31st); (2) "All Saints' Day," on November 1st ; and (3) "All Souls' Day" on November 2nd.
Later, Mexicans changed "All_Hallowed_Tide" into "Day of the Dead" (Dia de los Muertos), which is celebrated on the same, exact days.
The Mexican version of the European Holidays (All-Hallowed-Tide) is mixed with local traditions that are said to come from ancient Aztec traditions as far back as 3,000 years ago.
When the Irish settlers came to the U.S.A., they brought with them their traditions of Samhain and changed the name to "All Hallow's Eve," which later was shortened to "Halloween." And, the American Aborigines introduced pumpkins to the settlers, which became very handy in making jack-o-lanterns.
So, what happened to Halloween (or Samhain) in Ireland and the other parts of the British empire???
Well, it kind of became overshadowed by "Guy Fawke's Day," which is celebrated on November 5th.
Halloween is coming back, though, probably due to American and Hollywood's influence.
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Other Halloween traditions include:
(1) Wearing scary masks
The Celts wore scary masks if they had to leave their houses on Halloween, to scare away would-be molesting evil spirits.
(pic from http://www.deathstudios.com)
Since no one still believes that evil spirits roam the earth, children dress up in costumes, both cute and scary, and go from door to door soliciting tricks or treats from their neighbors. The custom of "trick-or-treating" seems to be a fairly modern custom. It seems to have started in the United States in 1950's. Apparently, it was started by parents wanting to stop the Halloween pranks. (Source: History Channel)
It is very similar to the Christmas tradition of "wassailing," where people get together in a small group and go from house to house singing Christmas carols, and hope to get some treats for their singing.
1. Bobbing for Apples
2. Pin the Tail on the Donkey
3. Scariest Mask Contest
4. Pumpkin Carving Contest
Halloween Funny Photo
If you took this photo, please contact me and let me so I can give you credit for the photo... GREAT PHOTO, by the way!!!!
A Comparison between
Halloween and Day of the Dead
Leon's Ghost Stories
The Haunted Toilets of Magna, Utah
It was 2018, in Utah, U.S.A. I was a 5th-grade teacher at a small charter school in a small town, called Magna, Utah. The word ‘magna’ is Latin for “great”, which is an oxymoron, because the town neither was great nor ever became great. Magna was first settled in 1868 as a mining town (still is a mining town to this day). But, it wasn’t called Magna back then; it was called Pleasant Green. Later, they changed the name to Magna, because it was thought that the town would grow to become a great city. It never did become a great city, though, despite continued mining operations for over 150 years.
Dead Man’s Cave:
The Empress Theater:
Magna Ghost Stories:
I was a baker and doughnut-maker in 1993. I started out as a baker, baking pies for the casinos in Las Vegas in 1993. Then, my boss decided to expand into doughnut-making. Baking was done during the day and the pies were frozen, but doughnut-making was done during the graveyard shift, so that the doughnuts were fresh in the morning. I was trained to be the sole doughnut-maker, working graveyard shift, all alone in the huge warehouse bakery.
It wasn't scary. I didn't mind being alone. What bothered me was the daunting task of making a hundred doughnuts of all kinds to perfection before the sun rose. It felt like spinning straw into gold in a single night. A lot of responsibility was placed upon my shoulders, and I wasn't up to the task, even though I said I was.
Well, I was working all alone one night. In fact, it was my first night alone in the warehouse-bakery. I was getting all my equipment ready, and someone or something kept knocking them off the table. I put the mixing bowl on the table, and it was knocked onto the floor. I put the utensils on the table, and they'd be knocked off onto the floor. At that point, I got super pissed off. I yelled, "Stop it!" I was pissed off because I was working on a deadline and now I had to wash the bowl and the utensils. Whoever was messing with me was putting me behind schedule.
Finally, I calmed down and got to work mixing up the dough. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a man all dressed in white walk across the floor and through the wall. It was the last time I ever worked there during graveyard shift.
Ghost on the Radio in
Salt Lake City
It was 2017 and my son was too old to go trick-or-treating, and yet I wanted to do something special for him on Halloween. We decided to visit some haunted spots in Salt Lake City on Halloween night. I did some research and we found that the two most famously haunted spots in Salt Lake City are: (1) the Rio Grande Train Depot (now a historical landmark) and (2) the Salt Lake City cemetery.
According to the stories, sometimes a young lady dressed in a purple dress can be seen in the windows at night. Legend has it that she died trying to retrieve an engagement ring that had fallen onto the tracks. Mostly she's been seen in the lady's restroom. We went to the depot first, hoping for a glimpse of her through the windows, but the windows were all boarded up, or had curtains closed, so we couldn't see anything. However, we were not entirely disappointed. As we were walking around in front of the depot, a truck horn sounded. No one was inside the truck--at least no one visible. I walked right up to the truck and looked in the window. No one was in that truck.
Then, we went to the Salt Lake City cemetery. We parked the car and walked around the cemetery. Saw nothing but gravestones. But, when we got back into the car and I turned on the ignition, the radio went from normal radio to static. Then, we heard some people talking (nothing intelligible), then some really old music started playing, like from the 40's or 50's. I did not recognize the song. My son and I just looked at each other with incredulity in our eyes. After about thirty seconds, the radio went back to normal. We were freaked out, and we called it a night.
The Mongolian Ghost
A Dead Sparrow on My
[FOREWORD: You may be wondering what a Mongolian Ovoo has to do with a dead sparrow. Well, read this recount and find out!]
Before I went to sleep last Friday night, I lay on the bed thinking about what my next article would be about. When I awoke, I went out on my balcony to water my plants. There was a dead baby Eurasian tree sparrow lying on my balcony. I freaked out! I thought, “Oh, my heavens! What kind of omen is this?”
am I superstitious?
Yes! I am superstitious.
I’ve always been superstitious.
When I was young, I used to make up my own superstitions.
For instance, I used to think that if I locked my bicycle in a certain
spot, I’d have a good day at school.
When someone took my spot and I was forced to lock my bike in another
location, I was sure to have a bad day.
I stood there, mesmerized by the matter at hand, I wondered what a dead bird on
one’s balcony portends.
I just had to know.
I called my friend, Markus.
He’s a Mongolian American.
I figured he’d know.
I asked, “What does it mean when someone finds a dead bird on their
balcony in Mongolia?”
He replied, “It means the bird died on your balcony.”
He was no help. So,
I immediately sat at my laptop and began to search the web for answers.
I searched all day long.
I found nothing related to my predicament.
However, herein below is what I did find.
the West, there is a superstition that if a bird flies into one’s home, there
will be a death of a loved one.
that bullet! In
Mongolia, apparently the belief is that if one comes upon a dead animal, one
should spit three times and say, “I didn’t kill you.”
This is to avoid retribution from the spirit of the deceased animal.
to say, I was a bit relieved that there wasn’t any bad omen associated with a
dead bird. However,
I couldn’t help but feel uneasy about it.
Questions plagued my mind.
Why me? Why
now? Why on my
once said that there is no such thing as a mere coincidence.
I mean sure, the baby bird probably fell out of a nest on the roof of my
Did some evil spirit push it out of the nest?
Was it a message from the spirit world?
How was I to take it?
So, that night, after putting my son to bed, I went out on the balcony
and said, “I didn’t kill you,” but I didn’t spit three times.
I didn’t spit at all.
That’s just nasty.
next morning, I went out on my balcony again.
There on the telephone wires, no more than two meters away from me,
practically eye to eye were two adult tree sparrows yelling at me.
I said, “I didn’t do it!
It was probably that lady two floors up who flicks vodka into the air.”
Then, a third sparrow flew right up to my balcony and gave me a severe
I said, “I didn’t do it!”
I know what you are thinking.
You are thinking, “Leon, you are crazy!
You talk to birds?
Are you serious?”
last thing I needed was a replay of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”.
I must digress and tell you about the lady two floors up.
I’ve seen her late at night in our apartment parking lot flicking some
kind of liquid into the air in all four cardinal directions.
She spooned the liquid, which looked like a milk tea, out of her cup high
into the air. Clearly,
she was performing some kind of shamanistic ritual, but I didn’t know why.
Did she want rain from the sky?
From my research about Mongolian shamanism, I learned that in the past
Mongolians asked their shamans for rain, but now, they generally ask for money.
Sometimes Mongolian shamans will tell their clients to give offerings of
milk tea or vodka to the spirits, in return for favors.
Perhaps that was the reason.
Perhaps she needed money.
ha!” I thought. However,
I was a bit dismayed to go out on my balcony one sunny afternoon only to get a
vodka shower. You
see my balcony is the lowest one and jets out a bit farther than the others
above me. I
looked up to see what was causing my shower.
It was that old lady again flicking a clear liquid into the sky from her
fact, I didn’t know what kind of liquid it was.
It could have been anything.
I’ve read that sometimes the shamans will tell their clients who are
plagued by evil spirits to bathe in vodka and then throw it out the window to
get rid of the evil spirit.
For all I know I was being showered with dirty bath vodka.
Maybe it worked, though.
Maybe the evil spirit left her home and entered the baby sparrow, and
then it tried to fly away, but its wings weren’t fully developed.
Or just maybe, the old lady flicked the vodka a little bit too high and
it got into the nest, intoxicating one of the little chicks, which then
accidentally fell out of the nest.
let’s get back to my story.
After I convinced the adult sparrows that “…it wasn’t me”, they
left me alone. It
became clear that I couldn’t just leave the little bird on my balcony.
I decided that it was time to bury the felled foul, whom we
affectionately named “Sparrie”.
I put the lifeless little thing into a cardboard coffin and I said,
“Let’s go bury Sparrie.”
My son and I went out into the field next to our apartment building, dug
a grave with a spoon, and buried the bird, coffin and all.
Then, we erected an ovoo, or rock monument, on top of the grave and a
headstone out of piece of polished granite we found lying in the field.
We said a little prayer that went something like this, “Dear God,
please accept the spirit of our little sparrow friend, whom we’ve named
Sparrie, into your heavenly abode.
now, I think we have appeased the spirits.
Whatever happens next, I’m not going to spit three times.
That’s just nasty.
Now, an ovoo, pictured above, is a very sacred thing in Mongolian tradition. If one should happen upon one, one is supposed to (doesn't have to; but may if they want to) pick up a rock that is NOT part of the existing ovoo, walk around the ovoo three times, carrying the rock and saying a prayer. Then, one places the rock on the ovoo. This is akin to our Western tradition of adding a coin to a wishing well. Just as it is extremely taboo to remove coins from a wishing well, it is extremely taboo to remove stones/rocks from an ovoo.
So, after we had buried Sparrie and erected the miniature ovoo on top of the grave, and said our little prayer, we retired to the apartment wherein we resided. As we were going about our daily routines, my son experienced an odd event, which he relayed to me. He told me that when he looked in the mirror in the living room, which was facing the balcony, he saw a Mongolian-looking woman standing on our balcony. When he immediately turned around to look at the balcony, she was no longer there. When asked what she was wearing, he said that she was wearing an ancient outfit with feathers all over it.
I, personally, believe that it was the spirit of the sparrow coming to thank us for what we had done for her. I also, personally, believe that she tarried with us for the duration of our time in Mongolia as our guardian angel. There were many "close calls" for my son and me while living in Mongolia, but we were always propitiously protected.
Please note: It is NOT a Mongolian tradition to erect on ovoo on top of a grave. But, I wanted to do something special for Sparrie. I also wanted to teach my son to respect all creatures (dead or alive), even respect the spirit of a picayune tree sparrow.
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