Trick or treat? November 1st is the moment when you are divided among enthusiastic fans of Halloween, with its pumpkins, witches, monsters and vampires, and who only considers an import party this day loved by children (and also for the biggest ones to have some fun). In fact, Halloween (which is a Scottish variant for “All Hallow’s Eve”, or “Ognissanti” in archaic English) is a very old celebration: it comes from the Celtic Festival of Samhain, which corresponded to the end of the harvest and the official start of ‘winter. But almost every country has its tradition for the days of 31 October and 1 November, of course including Italy: here are some of the most interesting, also to decide on a special trip!
Halloween in US, sweets and pumpkins
Halloween, for all children, means masquerading as a monster, a vampire, a mummy, or any other character in a macabre color and knocking at the doorstep of the neighborhood to give you candy, with the risk of getting a “trick” “Unpleasant. The disguise and the door-to-door quest is a custom that dates back to the Middle Ages and to the demand of the elephant in the days of the tribute to the deceased. Halloween prince symbol is of course the carved pumpkin and a candle inside it, “Jack-o’-Lantern”: in this case the tradition probably comes from Ireland. Today, Halloween is one of the most popular celebrations in the world and even VIPs do not hesitate to show the most bizarre costumes for the parts of October 31st …
Samhain in Ireland, the beginning of winter
Even though today’s Halloween traditions are macabre and almost always funeral themes – as well as, moreover, the Catholic celebration, for its tribute to the dead – Samhain, the ancient pagan festival that is probably the basis of all the later versions, was not considered a moment of sadness. It was, yes, the beginning of the “darker half” of the year that the ancient Celts divided into two, and the souls of the dead were admitted, but it was also the celebration of the freshly harvested and safe in the barns and in the granaries. Today, the Samhain tradition has been almost absorbed by Halloween, but in Scotland and Ireland it continues its celebration with great bonfires, traditional games and food such as barmbrack, an Irish fruit cake that also features coins, buttons and rings, considered to be good for those who find them.
Ognissanti in Italy: so sweet!
The Feast of Ognissanti dates back to 840 after Christ, instituted by Pope Gregory IV on November 1st, according to many to superimpose Samhain’s pagan festival. Born to celebrate all the saints, even non-canonized ones, as in other nations, has a rich confectionery tradition: the bones of the dead, the pan of the dead, the castagnaccio, the nougat of the dead and many other preparations that color the recurrence in a different way depending on your region. The Ognissanti’s Rite, well-felt in the small countries, includes visits to the tombs of the dead, with many flowers and lights; in many areas it is used to turn on a red candle and put it on the sill at sunset, and set up an additional seat at the table for the souls to come to visit.
The cheerfulness of Dia de los muertos in Mexico
Can a party dedicated to the dead, where skulls and skeletons are found in every corner, be cheerful, vibrant and colorful? Yes if you are in Mexico on the 1st and 2nd November. Even in this case, the origins of the celebration are very ancient: they date back to the aztecs, who welcomed the return of the deceased to the earth for 24 hours, before the children and then the adults. The Dia de los muertos has been the UNESCO’s immaterial cultural heritage since 2003 and is characterized by the ubiquitous calacas, the colorful and dancing skeletons that almost seem like a macabre cartoon, and the altars with offerings and food for the dead. No blood, no pumpkins, no silent homage to the dead: it is the time of cheerfulness and faces that have been painted.
Japan: let’s make it weird
Though Japan abounds in celebrations dedicated to the Shinto and Buddhist tradition, Halloween has become a very popular festival. And as is often the case in the West Solothian, nothing is left to chance. Kawasaki is home to Japan’s most famous parade, with fancied costumes and a stringent set of access requirements: you have to ask for it two months before to show off your costume among the others. The masks are often real works of art, although there are also the most famous characters of souls and manga, like any Japanese festival worthy of this name. And then there are the commuter trains, which during the Halloween period are filled with young people with dresses and particularly bloody make-up, ready to spend the most scary night of the year from one locale to another.
Pitru Paksha, the reunion with the dead in India
Not all the festivities that can be brought to Halloween or Ognissanti – those where, that is, certify the passage to the coldest and most hostile part of the year and that because of its “threshold” character between two worlds allows communication with the dead – take place between October and November, especially if there is no substratum of Catholic holidays. In India, for 16 days during the second Paksha of the Hindu lunar month of Bhadrapada, celebrates Pitru Paksha, the time when the deaths of a family – carried into the purgatory by Yama, the god of death – are allowed to reunite for their family . Shraddha’s ritual is done to prevent souls from roaming for eternity on earth, and in addition to the deceased are offered typical foods such as milk and sweet rice, moths (a kind of sweet porridge) and curiously just like Halloween , pumpkins that are cooked in silver and copper pots and served on banana leaves.