Wednesday, 3rd June 2020

This Month's Magazine
Witches and Ghosts

Witches and Ghosts

It’s that time of year again when children start ‘Trick or treating’ and adults dress up in silly costumes. - By Count De La Perrelle

rInterestingly the north of Spain tends to celebrate Halloween more than the rest of the Country. There is some evidence that northern regions had Celtic-speaking inhabitants around 2500-3000 years ago, mixing with the indigenous population and
creating their own cultural region there. In fact in these particular regions today there is a growing Celtic revival which is proving popular with holiday makers from Celtic loving countries.

Halloween developed from an ancient Celtic festival celebrated some 2000 years ago in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and north-western France. The festival was called Samhain, which means “summer’s end.” It marked the beginning of the dark winter season and was celebrated around November 1st. In the 800’s, the Christian Church established the 1st of November as All Saints’ Day. All Saints’, called All Hallows, therefore the night before was known as All Hallows’ Eve, abbreviated to All Hallow e’en.

Some old pagan customs were maintained and some people put out food for their ancestors, or they left a lantern burning in the window so that ghosts could find their way home for the night.

Dressing up: All the costumes and funny faces have Pagan Celtic roots. One theory is they dressed as ghouls to fool evil spirits let loose on October 31, so as not to be possessed by them. Another theory is they dressed in costume just for fun and to make mischief. Yet another theory is that faeries would dress as beggars asking for food, which would also be the origins of the “trick or treat” practice.


Trick or Treat: This practice might have had its start in the legend from Celtic days that faeries would dress as beggars going from door to door asking for food, and those that did not show hospitality would be harshly dealt with by these magical faeries. On All Souls Day, the poor would beg for “Soul Cakes” (sweet pastries) in exchange for prayers for their departed loved ones, expediting their passage to heaven. Sometimes costumed groups would sing and perform in exchange for food, ale, or money.

‘Jack oÂ’lanternsÂ’: This hails from the Irish folk tale of Jack, who tricked the devil, but was not allowed in heaven or in hell. The  devil, taking pity of Jack, gave him an ember to light his way on his eternal walks on Earth, carried in a hollowed out turnip. Because of their size and availability, pumpkins were substituted for turnips in the United States.

Ghost Stories: Ghost stories probably have their roots in the original Celtic belief that the spirits of the dead (both good and bad) wandered the Earth on October 31 (Samhain). In the United States today, they are used to amuse and scare children (and some adults) to get them in the “spirit” of Halloween.

It is interesting to note that many years ago there wasn’t even a hint of costumes, scary rubber faces and the latest in witch fashion here in Andalucia but now it seems that the Halloween phenomena has really caught on it is increasingly considered harmless fun rather than a satanic festival. Even the supermarkets have jumped on the Halloween bandwagon and are using it as an excuse to get the customers in, looking to buy ‘huesos de santo’ or ‘bunuelos de viento’ that are typically eaten at this time of year.

I think that Halloween is now just another countdown to the inevitable Christmas.

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