History and Rituals of Halloween

Halloween is almost upon us!

I would like to take this opportunity to remind all the readers of this blog that even though the category is called ‘Speak English Better’, the blogs’ focus is also on learning and understanding culture.  Why?  Because as I have said a hundred million ka-billion times – English language cannot be used solely as a tool of grammar and spelling.  To truly ‘speak English better’ you must understand the history and culture of English-speaking lands, especially if you are living in one now, permanently or temporarily.

I love Halloween.  As kids we got to make our own costumes (with the help of Mom and Dad of course) and go out ‘trick or treating’ to get a bag full of candy!  What more could a North American kid want?  (All that sugar is soooo bad for you though….but we didn’t care!)

Now as adults we might dress up in costume and go to bars or house-parties to drink instead, or we might stay at home and give out candy to little trick-or-treaters who visit our homes.  It’s still fun!  And we MUST watch scary horror movies as well!

In the olden days, the costumes were ‘evil’ creatures, like devils, goblins, vampires, ghosts, and any of the other Silver Screen Matinee classic monsters.  In the olden-olden days, when Halloween was first being ‘developed’ as a practice, the idea was to dress yourself up as an evil spirit in order to fool the real evil spirits around, so that they would leave you alone.  In fact, did you know that one of the reasons why we have the custom of covering our mouths while we yawn is not just out of politeness, but to avoid ‘spirits’ entering our bodies?  Yes, we humans were very superstitious many years ago!

Anyway, if you would like to learn more about the history of Halloween, including the name, the colours, the costumes, the religious influences and the jack-O-lantern (carved pumpkin) please do a little more reading at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween or start asking folks around you about their experience with Halloween.

Enjoy this rather odd but fun celebration, and do not get sick on too much candy! (or ‘sweets’ as my British friends would say!)

Happy Halloween!

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