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 Â“summerÂ’s end.Â” It marked the beginning of the dark winter season and was celebrated around November 1st. In the 800Â’s, the Christian Church established the 1st of November as All SaintsÂ’ Day. All SaintsÂ’, called All Hallows, therefore the night before was known as All HallowsÂ’ Eve, abbreviated to All Hallow eÂ’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 Â“trick or treatÂ” 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 Â“Soul CakesÂ” (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.
Â‘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 Â“spiritÂ” of Halloween.
It is interesting to note that many years ago there wasnÂ’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 Â‘huesos de santoÂ’ or Â‘bunuelos de vientoÂ’ that are typically eaten at this time of year.
I think that Halloween is now just another countdown to the inevitable Christmas.