Today week is Halloween. Halloween is a tradition which has not really caught on here in Malta. Some children do dress up and go trick or treating but it is still a tradition celebrated by the minority. Like most Catholic countries our dressing-up extravaganza occurs at Carnival. When it comes to Halloween, most people give it a miss. But I suppose that going from door to door collecting candy is every kid’s dream come true. Growing up, I heard about the Halloween tradition from my parents who had lived in Canada prior to my birth. The door to door collection of treats sounded like a good idea to me. That is, until I heard that this was not always the safest thing to do.
I did some research on the origins of Halloween on the font of all wisdom (Google) and one thing that everyone seems to be sure of is that Halloween originated from the Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts believed that during this particular night of the year, the veils between the worlds was very thin and spirits from the other world could wander into our world. It was for this reason that people would go from door to door collecting food for the spirits of their loved ones, to aid their passage into the next world. The tradition of dressing up in scary costumes and of carrying lanterns ensured that any wandering spirits would take fright and flee. What is less clear is how this tradition took such a strong root in North America when no records exist of its celebration in countries like England and Ireland where the Celts originally lived.
It always amazes me how traditions from antiquity are not only remembered but are actually thriving after their inception thousands of years ago. Halloween, of course, is not the only tradition that can be traced to antiquity. Probably few people celebrating Halloween know or care where the tradition started. As a tradition, the only part that is attractive to me is the collection of candy. Spider webs, witches, grinning pumpkins and ghouls were never exactly my cup of tea. Needless to say, no one here decorates the house for Halloween except for some expats from Canada or the US.
In our family, the Mischief Maker dressed up for Halloween for the first time last year. He was a NASA astronaut. This year I think he will be dressing up as Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story. Since I am a bit paranoid about taking him round to neighbours to trick or treat, we usually end up at my parents’ or at my aunt’s and they stock him up well for a couple of days. I am sure that as time goes by this tradition will creep in and gain a stronger footing in this country. I do not know whether that is good or bad. I suppose only time will tell.
In the meantime I invite you to take a look at some of the links below. I think there is something to interest everyone even those who are not necessarily Halloween aficionados.
* Woman’s Day provides a great tutorial on how to make tin can pumpkin lanterns.
* Kids or grandkids will enjoy making these fun Halloween crafts. With your help, of course.
* No Halloween is complete without a batch of caramel apples.
* For my readers in the US, National Geographic has compiled a list of ten free to see Halloween events
* Finally, in keeping with the weird and wonderful spirit of this tradition, take a look at this article. Mind boggling, to say the least.