Monday, October 30, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Today is October 31st; the day of the popularly celebrated Halloween's day where people get invited to costume parties, trick or treats from house to house, ghoulish make-ups and costumes, jack-o-lanterns, sweet candies, etc.
Most of the aforementioned will only be seen commonly in the West since this originated from the Celts in Ireland. It is not exactly a Christian observed festival although its roots seem to coincide with the Christians' celebration of the All Saints' Day. In fact it is derived from its original name "Hallowe'en" or "All Hallows Eve" as in the evening before "All Hallows Day"(aka All Saints Day). There are a number of variations of this festival among the Western countries which dates back to the origin of the All Saints day celebrated by the Catholics.
In certain parts of Ireland, Halloween is also called "Pooky Night" - in reference to 'puca', a mischievous spirit.
The festival itself is often viewed in association with the dark side or the occult. In fact, the Europeans traditionally believe that this is the time of the year where the spirits of the underworld can make contact with the living and the time when the dark magic dwells. There were also sources which mentioned that this would be the time when the spirits will come back to possess the living - in summary, this is definitely a festival of the dead - resembling the All Souls Day and also the
7th Month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar (The Festival of the Hungry Ghosts).
The Church did not impose any restriction on the celebration of the festival and denied that it is promoting any form of occult. In fact, it was even a good exposure to the younger generation on the difference between the living and the dead. Formerly viewed as a pagan festival, the Church does not interfere with the celebrations and view it as a time of fun and parties for everyone. However, the Protestants disagree and strongly protest against this festival, calling it some form of paganism and worshipping of the devil and dwelling in the occult.
The Christians observe the All Souls Day on Nov 2; a day after All Saints Day. Take note that only the Roman Catholic church observe the All Saints Day which is a day to honor all the saints.
Thus, Halloween is only a secular festival which is only celebration for the fun of the festival mood.
During this time of the year, if you observe our Western counterparts, they throw parties at their homes; usually costume parties where the guests are required to dress themselves up in various characters found in the books or ghoulish to symbolize the festival. The younger kids will, on the other hand, go from house to house; knocking on the doors, with the famous "Trick or treat" tagline, mainly eyeing for the sweets and candies which will be handed out by the generous folks. The kids will also dress themselves up in costumes as they make their rounds around their neighbourhood at night. It was said that some culture practise the sprinkling of salt on the children' hair to prevent the evil spirits from possessing them.
There is also the famous jack-o-lanterns which has its legend about a guy named Jack who was a drunkard and tricked the devil. Then the story went on that when he died, he was denied entry into Heaven due to his bad deeds and Hell also rejected him since he played a trick on the devil before. I forgot parts of the story... then the jack-o-lanterns came about.
Anyway, we do not really practise this festival here; but I do find it really interesting. As usual, we do have those people who idolize the West and try to emulate their ways - thus now the growing commercialization of this festival even in the East. personal opinion, sometimes we should just be proud of our unique Eastern culture and celebrate it in our own unique ways.
So, Happy Halloween......have fun, snuggle to sleep.....Trick or Treat!!!

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