Reader's Corner

Setting Out the Pumpkins

by Rebecca Cruz

 

Every year we carve up those pumpkins and try to be most creative with our costumes.  Being young or old doesn’t really matter – it’s time to get out that candy.

 

But, what is it really all about?  Most of us have heard some history about it, like its relation to All Hallows Eve or the Day of the Dead or Samhain, the end of harvest celebration.  But all countries do not celebrate it.  

 

It actually originates from the country of Ireland and it was a Celtic tradition.  Originally Samhain, it was a big celebration for the Celts. People believed because of Soul’s Day that the dead actually roamed the streets on the 31st of October.  They would use costumes to keep away the evil spirits.  To avoid problems with Christianity All Soul’s Day was moved to November 1st.

 

Most traditions of Halloween have actually remained the same all these years.  Such as parties, costumes and lots of treats. Even the trick-or-treating dates back to the Celts.  They had this tradition called Souling where the poor would go door to door begging for cake. They would be given what was called soul cakes, and in return they would pray for the donating families deceased.  Hence the idea of going trick- or- treating.


So, what about those pumpkins?  How does that come in? Well, there is an old folk tale called Stingy Jack, if you happen to be Irish maybe you know the story.  In the story Jack is an old drunken farmer who is not allowed to enter heaven or hell after his passing.  So, his soul wandered. The people started carving out turnips to make lanterns with coal to light the way for lost souls.  So why pumpkins? After many years, people started using potatoes instead, but when the Potato Famine hit they began to use pumpkins instead.  So that is how we get Jack-o lantern, and pumpkins are one of the best parts of Halloween.

 

So, Halloween has become a great American tradition, great for children of all ages to join in on the fun.  Although some do not celebrate it, it really is just a fun day for the kids, and as we know kids love to dress up.

 

In other countries, on October 2nd, there is a similar celebration of Children’s Day.  It is celebrated in a similar way, but no trick-or-treating or pumpkins.  But children will go to parties, receive treats, and play games. And they get to dress up of course.

 

But, however celebrated, or not celebrated, Halloween will remain a nice American tradition.

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