Today I will introduce to you one of the oldest Holidays that is celebrated on earth. It has got a very long history and I will try to tell you about it.
Halloween is celebrated in the evening on the 31. of October. The German name ‘Allerheiligen’ is translated into English ‘All Saints’ and the evening before is called ‘All Saints Eve’. Later this ‘All Saints Eve’ became to ‘All Hallowmas Eve’ and that was changed again into ‘Halloween’. And exactly to the same date had already before been celebrated the old celtic celebration of Samhain. In celtic beliefes that was the night in which ‘life’ which was summer gave up its rule for half a year to ‘death’ which was winter. They believed that the deaths and ghosts were searching for a humen bady during that time. And that’s why they gave many presents to them. The Irish people changed this Halloween Custom a little bit. In this night they dressed up in possibly terrible clothes so that the deaths and ghosts would pass by them and wouldn’t recognize them as being alive. These masks and disguises were used to frighten the ghosts. As Halloween was connected to All Saints it was celebrated in earlier times only in catholic areas on the British Isles. Mainly in Ireland and North America. In the 19.th century there was a big potato famine in Ireland and so many Irish emigrated to America. And of course they also took their custom to celebrate Halloween with them. In Ireland they had used turnips and swedes to carve in some masks and put some lights in it. They didn’t find these vegetables in America and so they used pumpkins. The belived that these ugly faces would keep away bad ghosts.The other children liked this custom very much and so the other immigrants just overtook it. That’s why it became a very important holiday in America and Canada. Since then All Saints has become a Christian custom there. In the 20ies and 30ies of the 20th century it was mainly celebrated by grownups who disguised and enjoyed themselves. That stopped immediately when world war 2 broke out. After world war 2 the custom of Halloween returned to Europe again.
Now it is celebrated in a happy and familiar way not in a frightening one. In America you can see Halloween decoration in classrooms, houses, gardens, on many different places. In Europe the decoration is only found in businesses. The custom of ‘Trick or Treat’ which also comes from Ireland is here in Europe not as popular as in America. This custom comes from the feast of Saint Columba. A saint born in Ireland in the 6th century. There the people went round the houses asking for gifts which should protect them against bad luck. In Europe is this custom of ‘Trick or Treat’ not that popular like in America. But its getting more popular every year. Disguised children walk from door to door and ask for sweets. If they don’t get any they will play some tricks on these people. For example they are putting toilet paper around the cars or cut the flowers in the garden. Here in Europe these tricks are rather played in the Walpurgisnight.
A problem in celebrating Halloween is seen by the churches. The church in America thinks that this celebration could be misused by satanic organization and that Halloween could displace All Saints. On the other hand the churches in Europe are frightened that the celebration of Halloween could displace the feast of Saint Nicholas day and that the Saint Nicholas singing could be displaced by the calls for ‘Trick or Treat’. Many children and adults dress up on Halloween. Favourite disguises are witches, ghosts, vampires, bats, skeletons, pumpkins, fairies and a lot of others. In Germany Halloween is more popular then ever. Meanwhile it is economically seen the second biggest celebration after Christmas. Traditional Halloween colours are black, orange, white and yellow.
I will end my presentation by showing you some typical Halloween dresses. They will be presented by some friends of mine.