Halloween around the world
It’s October 31st and there’s a raging thunderstorm as I write this. It is of course Halloween so I couldn’t ask for a more atmospheric condition. So long as the electricity does not go out again.
As a long term traveler Halloween is my favorite time of year. This may sound a little strange, but there is a reason behind this that’s not so physically macabre.
Why Halloween is my favorite holiday when traveling
There are many holidays / events around the world that a traveler will bump into. Some can be good, others can be bad. Christmas, Ramadan, Easter, are all long holiday periods that you should really look out for in your plans.
Problems with travel and celebrations
Christmas/New Years in many countries mean nearly a week or more of closed shops, tours, overbooked transportation and booked out hotels. Ramadan in some countries means you might have problems finding food during the day, and at the end of Ramadan, there’s a big celebration leading to more booked out transport etc. Easter can be the surprise entry here that many people forget, with some devoutly Catholic countries shutting nearly completely down during a week of public holidays.
With Halloween, everything is generally okay. Unlike many many celebrations it’s a fixed date. And, it’s generally not a public holiday, although All Saints Day quite often is.
What to do on Halloween when traveling?
Many travelers in popular areas will celebrate with each other. Some by dressing up in makeshift costumes, others will join big parties at bars an clubs.
While nursing hangovers the next day many get a surprise to find everything is shut. It’s now 1st November and All Saints Day.
For me it’s all about movies and locals. Halloween is my chillout time. I don’t have that feeling of being stranded somewhere for a week during Easter. Nor the obligation of finding people so as not to be alone during Christmas / New Years.
There’s nothing worse for me than to be in a hostel with strangers forcing themselves to party over Christmas, and be constantly asked to join in. Sorry, call me scrooge, but unless they are genuinely nice and not just getting drunk, it’s not for me.
Countries that celebrate All Saints Day with a holiday
Spain, The Philippines, Germany, France, Italy (Thanks Giovanna) … ( if you know more, then leave a comment and I’ll add it here)
Halloween in The Philippines
It’s a strange merging of cultures. All Saints Day is a public holiday. A time families visit the gravesides of their relatives and remember religious saints and holy people.
Halloween itself is somewhat lost in the giant Mall clutter of Christmas. Once September hits The Philippines the country starts putting up it’s decorations and radios start blaring out Christmas songs. Halloween barely gets a mention, save for a few festive staff dressing up on the day.
History of Halloween
- 2000 years ago the Celts, a geographical mix of people from Ireland, United Kingdom and Northern France celebrated their New Year on November 1st. This was the first day to signal the end of harvest time, summer. It also signalled the long dark winter that was now coming. A time associated with human death.
- The night before this Oct 31st was Samhain, a time when the ghosts would return to the earth and damaged crops brought disease etc. Druids, or rather Celtic Priests would be summoned to help deal with the dilemma of the natural world.
- The Druids would build huge bonfires to signify this. Animal and crop sacrifices were performed as people wore costumes made from animal hide. The fire from these bonfires would then be used to light their own fires at home. The sacred fire used in hope to ward off bad elements in the forth coming winder.
Roman influence on Halloween
- When the Romans ruled the Celtic lands around 43 A.D. They incorporated two of their own festivals into Samhain. The first was a celebration of their fruit Goddess Pomona. The second a passing of the dead celebration.
Christianities influence on Halloween
- In the 800’s Pope Boniface IV decreed November 1st as being All Saints Day – a day to remember and honor saints and martyrs. Historians also believe this day was chosen to try and nullify Samhain.
Where does the name Halloween come from?
- All Saints Day was also known as Allholowmesse (old English). And, the night before became known as All-hallows Eve before becoming – Halloween.
The U.S.A.’s influence on Halloween
- Halloween was brought to the USA by a host of European immigrants. The celebrations were slow to catch on though as the USA was mainly protestant. However, poor immigrants did use this time of year to dress up and knock on doors asking for money and preforming acts (trick or treat). It also developed into a time young women would do simple tricks in a hope to tell who might be a future husband.
- From this spawned community festivals, and Halloween became a yearly celebratory festival blending together many different cultures and beliefs.
The good and bad side to Halloween
In the past overly religious types scorned children for celebrating Halloween. This mixed with hooligans running rampant has scarred Halloweens growth. But, today it’s developing into one on biggest annual festivals in the world. A time for costume parties, trick or treating and light hearted fun.
My demented Halloween day
On my travels Halloween is my day to unleash my stock of cheap horror DVD’s. I expanded that today though. Today I got up, went for a nice giant coffee. And, then went to see “Last Exorcism” Which, is actually quite bad as horror movies go.
Made worse by the movie not starting on time. The sight of a man bringing in two under 10’s to see the film. Numerous people on their mobile phones. Late comers with flashlights glaring everywhere. And, of course, someone broke the film halfway though.
Later, a storm, a power cut, a flooded bathroom, a hotel maintenance man falling through my roof, the hotel running out of drinking water and well … the night is not over yet …
Sufficed to say, I should have just stayed in with my pile of DVD’s! Nonetheless, tomorrow is All Saints Day. Everything is closed. So, it’s movie marathon day for me. And, I’m not moving!
Finally, the big question about OZ and the plan …
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