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TEACH ABROAD

Leon's Blogs
History
(and etymology) of

...and the Day of the Dead

They share some of the same origins!

 

Table of Contents
(Just click on the pumpkin jack-o-lantern)

Etymology of the word "Halloween"
History of Halloween

...and the Day of the Dead

Halloween Traditions
Halloween Games
Halloween Movies (for kids)
Halloween Funny Photo
Halloween vs.  All Saints Day 
(dia de los muertos)

 

 

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.  In reality, Halloween has nothing to do with the Devil.  The concept of a Devil is a Judaeo-Christian fabrication.  Halloween actually stems from an Irish Celtic Holy Night called Samhain [pronounced:  Sao-wain].

 

History of Halloween  (and the Day of the Dead)
(my source:  Encyclopedia Britannica)

Teachers:  Here's a ppt to show your class.  Just click on this link to download.


Halloween was a holiday (literally a holy day) in Ireland and other British Isles for close to 3 thousand years before Christianity was introduced by Saint Patrick around 430 A.D.   So, it was a part of their culture long before Christianity came to the British Isles; only it wasn't called "Halloween" back then.  It was called "Samhain" [pronounced:  Sao-wain].  Samhain literally means "summer's end."  It was a time of the changing of the seaons.

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.  On the last day of the Celtic calendar (which is October 31 by the Roman calendar), after sundown, it was believed that all the spirits of the dead came forth from their resting places and roamed the earth.  In some traditions, it was Hel (Loki's daughter, and gate-keeper of Hell/The Underworld) who unlocked the gates of the underworld only one night per year to allow the spirits of the deceased to visit loved-ones in the land of the living.

 

 

 

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.

Then...

 

There weren't any pumpkins in Ireland back in those days.  They used turnips.

They turned turnips into miniature
jack-o-lanterns.

Today


Pumpkin

Today, in America, people use pumpkins to make jack-o-lanterns, because they are much bigger and easier to carve.


Jack-o-lantern

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 "AllHallowTide," which consists of (1) "All-Saints' Eve (on the night of October 31st); and (2) "All Saints' Day," on November 1st ;  and (3) "All Souls' Day" on November 2nd

Later, Mexicans changed "AllHallowedTide" 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.

 

 

 

 

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)

(2)  Trick-or-Treating

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.

 


 

Halloween Games

1. Bobbing for Apples

Materials

 

 

 

 
- a big bucket full of water

- as many apples as there are contestants (or more)

- a stop watch

- a score sheet/board

- writing implement
Method Put all the apples in the bucket.  The apple should float.  If it doesn't float, get another apple.  The first contestant must try to grab the apple with his/her teeth and stand up straight with the apple securely lodged in his/her mouth.  The contestant may not use his/her hands.  Someone should use the stop watch to time the contestant.  Then, the next contestant tries.  The contestant with the quickest time wins.  

2.  Pin the Tail on the Donkey
(or Pin the Nose on the Jack-o-lantern)

                                                                    

- for:
pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey
for:
pin-the-nose-on-the-jack-o
Materials - a big paper donkey w/o tail

- a paper donkey tail

- a blind fold

- a writing implement

- a big paper jack-o-lantern w/o nose

- a paper nose

- a blind fold

- a writing implement

Method Make a paper donkey with a separate tail.  Stick the tailless donkey to the wall or board.  Put the blind fold one the first contestant.  Put the donkey tail in his/her hand.  Spin the contestant three times.  Send the contestant in the direction of the tailless donkey.  The contestant must place the donkey tail as close to it's original position as possible.  Mark the chosen spot with a pen or other writing implement.  Then contestant number two tries.  The closest contestant wins. Make a paper jack-o-lantern with a separate nose.  Stick the nose-less jack-o-lantern to the wall or board.  Put the blind fold one the first contestant.  Put the nose in his/her hand.  Spin the contestant three times.  Send the contestant in the direction of the nose-less jack-o-lantern.  The contestant must place the nose as close to it's original position as possible.  Mark the chosen spot with a pen or other writing implement.  Then contestant number two tries.  Repeat as many times as there are contestants.  The closest contestant wins.

3.  Scariest Mask Contest

Materials

 

 

 

- lots of paper

- lots of coloring implements

- tape

- scissors

Method Have all contestants draw and color the scariest mask they can imagine.  Then have them cut the eyes out.  Then have them tape the mask to their faces.  When everyone is finished.  Have the contestants vote for the scariest mask.  The winner gets the most votes, of course.

4.  Pumpkin Carving Contest

Materials

 

 

 

- one pumpkin for each team or contestant

- one knife for each team of contestant

- lots of old newspapers

- two big pots

Method Each contestant or team gets one pumpkin, and one knife.  Each team must spread out newspapers under their work area.  Then, they must cut open the top of the pumpkin and take out all the seeds and put the seeds in one of the pots.  Then they must try to carve out the scariest face they can imagine in the side of the pumpkin.  The chucks of pumpkin must be put into the other pot.  Then the contestants vote for the scariest jack-o-lantern.  The seed can be cleaned, roasted and eaten.  The pumpkin chunks can be used to make pumpkin pie or pumpkin porridge.


Halloween Movies (for kids)

Hocus Pocus
Adams Family
It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Nightmare Before Christmas

 


 

Halloween Funny Photo

(Photographer: Unknown)

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

                                                       

Aspect

Halloween

Day of the Dead

Origins Samhain
Americans have twisted the original traditions.  It has morphed into what it is today.
Aztecs, Samhain, & Catholic ChurchIt is a mixture.
Date: October 31st

(Especially in the evening).

October 31st evening and...
November 1-2

Some sources say that it actually starts on October 31st at night and ends on November 2nd to coincide with the European Catholic traditions of All-Hallows-Tide which is 3 holidays:
-  Oct 31st - All Saints' Evening
-  November 1st - All Saints' Day
-  November 2nd - All Souls' Day.

Who started it? Irish Celts

('Twas morphed by Americans)

Mexicans

(It's a take-off of the Europeans' All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day), which was basically Samhain under a different name (a Catholic name).

Wikipedia's article suggests that there may be some Aztec influence upon the traditions, such as honoring the skulls.

It became a national holiday in the 1960's.

When was it started? around 3000 B.C. Aztec influence goes back 3000 years.
Catholic influence goes back to the 1600's.
Became a Mexican national holiday in 1960's.
Purpose: - Celebrate the changing of the seasons.
- Celebrate the harvest.
- Celebrate the arrival of loved-ones from the spirit world.
- Protect against unwanted spirits.
Celebrate / Honor / Recognize the deceased saints / ancestors / love-ones in the spirit world.
Where is it celebrated today? The American form of celebrating Halloween is catching on all over the world, but it's really an American Holiday.

There may be different ways of celebrating it in all English-speaking countries.

Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Peru, Venezuela  (source).

Wikipedia's article explicates that there are celebrations in other parts of the world as well, but only in certain parts of those countries.

 


Leon's Other Links

Pictures of REAL Ghosts

Exorcism (How to get rid of ghosts)

How to know if it is a good ghost or a bad ghost

 

 

 

 


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