Dec 7, 2011

All About Halloween

All About Halloween
Every October 31st, people in USA, usually children and teenagers, celebrate this holiday. Originally a Celtic festival for the dead, Halloween perhaps has become one of the most popular holidays for American youngsters. Here is some info about this special day. 

The word “Halloween” has its origins in the Catholic Church. It comes from “All Hallows Eve.” November 1, “All Hallows Day” (or "All Saints Day"), is a Catholic day of observance in honor of saints.
The custom of Halloween was brought to America in the 1840's by Irish immigrants fleeing their country's potato famine. The trick-or-treat custom is thought to have originated from a ninth-century European custom called "souling". On November 2- on All Souls Day- early Christians would walk from village to village begging for "soul cakes," made of square pieces of bread with currants. The more soul cakes the beggars would receive, the more prayers they would promise to say on behalf of the dead relatives of the donors. At the time, it was believed that the dead remained in limbo for a time after death, and that prayer, even by strangers, could speed up a soul's journey to heaven.

The Jack-0-Lantern custom probably comes from Irish folklore. As the tale is told, a man named Jack, who was notorious as a drunkard and trickster, tricked Satan into climbing a tree. Jack then carved an image of a cross in the tree trunk, trapping the devil up the tree. Jack made a deal with the devil that, if the latter never tempted him again, he would promise to let him down the tree.

According to the folk tale, after Jack died, he was denied to enter Heaven because of his evil ways. He was also denied access to Hell because he had tricked the devil. Instead, the devil gave him a single ember to light his way through the cold darkness. The ember was placed inside a hollowed-out turnip to keep it glowing longer.

The Irish originally used turnips as their “Jack's lanterns”. But when the immigrants came to America, they found that pumpkins were far more plentiful than turnips. So the Jack-O-Lantern in America was a hollowed-out pumpkin, lit with an ember.
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