Sunday, October 28, 2007
Who *IS* Jack and other Halloween trivia
Ever wonder why we carve up pumpkins for Halloween?? Here is one answer I found from the Yahoo Q and A pages:
"Pumpkin carving, like Halloween, came from the Celts. The carved pumpkin with a light inside was supposed to ward off evil spirits. The celts however, not having pumpkins, had to use their smaller, less tasty (and much harder to carve) cousin, the turnip.
Carved pumpkins/turnips are sometimes called Jack o' Lanterns from the ancient Irish legend. Jack was a smart, lazy, gambling, selfish lad who, when he died, was not even accepted into Hell. Instead, the devil gave him a pumpkin/turnip with a burning coal inside to light his way as he wandered round the earth."
Apparently, the whole Halloween thing originated from an old Celtic tradition, where children dressed up as fairies and went door to door begging for treats (and performing tricks if they did not receive any). As an old Pagan tradition, the Catholic Church borrowed it for a Feast of it's own, making it the eve before All Saint's Day. It migrated to our shores with Irish immigrants, was hijacked by Americans and turned into another excuse for retailers to make moola.
It used to be a night reserved mostly for kids, but over the past couple of decades as become a major adult event...with just as many costumes and party stuff aimed at the older crowd as it is towards children.
I think it is interesting that many Christians today believe it to be a "demonic" cultural event, given that it had some religious roots in Europe. A recent survey reports that 55% of conservatives will allow their kids to "trick or treat" compared with 76% of liberals.
Ok, it *did*have a connection to "spirits and witches" being particularly effective on this day in old Celtic lore, but it also has a Christian tradition attached to it, also...
"It was a day of religious festivities in various northern European Pagan traditions, until Popes Gregory III and Gregory IV moved the old Christian feast of All Saints' Day from May 13 to November 1. In the ninth century, the Church measured the day as starting at sunset, in accordance with the Florentine calendar. Although All Saints' Day is now considered to occur one day after Halloween, the two holidays were, at that time, celebrated on the same day. Liturgically, the Church traditionally celebrated that day as the Vigil of All Saints"
As a child, growing up, it only meant having to come up with a suitable costume and getting great candy! Heck, there was even one house on my block that gave out quarters!!!! (his was visited many times, over and over! lol) My own costume choices back then were "gypsy", "ghost", "witch" and later..my Dad's white dress shirt over jeans. (not sure what that was supposed to be, but I thought it was cool!) Unfortunately, I was a klutz in the dark and usually managed to bung my knees up tripping on my costume over some neighbors low wall or something and I'd go flying, along with my candy bag!!! I really loved Halloween night back then. Our neighborhood was FULL of kids, we all knew each other, and all the neighbors, and went in groups to each house all around our long block.
Later, as a pre-teen, my Aunt Beverly and I would dress up as witches, decorate her house and put on an elaborate evening for all the little trick or treaters! Great fun! We had to end it when it got out of control with truckloads of kids from across town arriving in droves...we just could not keep up with the demand for candy and the sheer numbers of little ghosts and goblins at the door! That was WAY before the commercial "haunted houses", so I guess we were ahead of our time.
(sources: Yahoo, Wikipedia)