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Who celebrates Halloween?
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 2:50 am    Post subject: Who celebrates Halloween? Reply with quote

I know it has its origins in Irish traditions. And I know it's beginning to catch on in France. I know Canadians celebrate it. In Vancouver everyone sets off fireworks — exotic stuff for Angelinos who practically have to have a permit and a fire department safety crew standing by to light a barbeque!

I just put out some lights and got a gorgeous Rouge Vif d'Estampes/Cinderella pumpkin for the doorway.
And I found some marvelous battery operated lights that look like flickering candles that I can set in hurricanes among the pumpkin and fall flowers without concern for a flowing costume getting too close to a flame.

I'm getting excited!
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Barbara



Joined: 13 Nov 2004
Posts: 899
Location: Gold Coast Australia

PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 3:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We don't celebrate it down here in NZ or Australia. Some of the stores are selling Halloween merchandise in the hope it will catch on. Occaisionally you will get some child at the door trick or treating but I don't keep sweets on hand so no point them coming here. I was in Montreal one Halloween and it is a big celebration in that city. In NZ we celebrate Guy Fawkes night on 5th November with fire crackers.
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charlsy



Joined: 08 Aug 2006
Posts: 136
Location: France, Bordeaux

PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 9:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry Rainey, Halloween is not really catching on in France ! For about 3 or 4 years, it was quite the thing, but rather the commercial thing ! Stores had found a way to sell huge amounts of candy, some costumes too, and pumpkin producers were overjoyed. But it's already fading.

The spirit of the festival is totally foreign to us, and the custom is not ingrained, so children will go from door to door, usually on saturday evening !, not on Halloween night !, asking for candy, but not knowing the basic rules, or the magic phrase, "trick or treat" ! Plus the basic layout of french towns does not lend itself to this custom : no open alleys, houses usually are removed from the street, behind closed fences, so you have to pass the locked gate first to reach the door ! And in buildings, people are generally weary of strangers...

Not an easy thing to import an age- old custom in a land that never celebrated this particular festival ! Here the accent is on All Saint's day, november 1st. Dreary holyday where we gather at the cemetary to put chrysanthemiums on the graves of our dead, clean up the tombstones, then go home. And usually the weather is just as dreary, gray and wet ! As a matter of fact, we call All Saints weather ("temps de Toussaint") that kind of gray, sad, rainy, chilly, cloudy weather ! Still sometimes we get lucky and have a wonderful, indian summer-type weather that day ! Last year was a good example, beautiful sunny weather.
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Alisa



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 97
Location: Paris, France

PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 10:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We DO!!!!.....well we are having a party for kids at my place. But the door to door trick or treating is sorely missed.

So far, in Paris, I only see it as a party excuse for the 18 year olds and over, and a new decoration idea in some stores!

Roast pumpkin seeds for us!
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Erin



Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound

PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love Halloween, though not for the ghosts and goblins. I love tromping around in my Wellies ,(this is the only time I get to wear them), looking for the perfect pumpkins. The warm cider and the excuse to cook with pumpkin. On the day it self, friends come for a hot dinner out in the freezing cold, with plenty of calvados to keep us warm. The kids seem to enjoy trick or treating at out house because they get candy from four people instead of one. It's a very nice night.
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Donna



Joined: 14 Oct 2005
Posts: 827
Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 5:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And in chimes the Grinch... Twisted Evil

Being an elementary school teacher and the mother of a son born on Oct. 29, I have had my fair share of Halloween celebrations! For all the years Ben was home, we had spider webs and spiders, a scarecrow, jack-o-lanterns, tapes of creepy noises, witches and ghosts decorating the house. I've had Halloween parades at my school and Ben's. We've gone to and hosted parties that included neighborhood trick-orr-treating with 15 or 20 kids. I handmade every costume he ever wore - including the Ninja Turtle one with a hand-quilted turtle shell and three fingered gloves! I manage to come up with some lame costume for myself every year - despite the vow that sometime I am going to make myself one wonderful costume so that I can wear it every year and never have to think about "What are you going to be for Halloween?" - a question that starts getting asked by mid- September at the elementary level!!

My current level of involvement in Halloween is to put a basket of candy outside the door, with a sign that says "Take one or two pieces, please!". Then we go out to dinner and to a movie. When we come home, it's all over and I go to bed a happy woman! There's NEVER any leftover candy to worry about and I am extremely relaxed!

Which is fine until the next morning, when I am peeling kids from the ceiling and they tell me they had 15 mini Snickers bars for breakfast!!!!! Laughing
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Griffin



Joined: 09 Jun 2006
Posts: 932
Location: England

PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 6:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And in chimes the Griffin! (Ta Donna!) This is a short-ish article wot I wrote for another website a couple of years ago.

The Eve of All Souls Day is Hallowe’en or All Hallows Eve. It is the day when the barriers between the worlds of the dead and the living are said to be at their thinnest. It is a feast of remembrance too as well as a reminder that the summer is over and it is time to gather in the harvest in time for the dead of winter.

The festival coincides with the Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced Sow-en) which was the last day of the Celtic year and means ‘summer’s end’. It was the Celts Festival of the Dead. Demons and evil spirits were said to freely roam around. Witches were said to hold their most important ‘sabbats’. Bonfires were lit as protection against the witches as well as to guide the more friendly spirits home and, charms were placed in barns to keep livestock safe.

Samhain was associated with burial mounds or barrows which were thought to be entrances into the other world. One of these was the Bronze Age barrow at Fortingall at the head of Glen Lyon in Tayside. A bonfire was built on the mound, known as Cairn nam Marbh or Mound of the Dead because it was believed to contain the bodies of plague victims. Great quantities of whin (furze or gorse) were gathered from the hillside and heaped on the mound. When it was blazing the whole community held hands and danced around it.

As it was believed that the dead returned to earth on All Hallows Eve, it was once the custom to leave doors open and food on kitchen tables for the ancestors. In fact, ancestor worship is widespread in many cultures and is no doubt the foundation of the belief in the afterlife as well as reincarnation.

In spite of these scarier aspects of All Hallows Eve, people also found it a time to celebrate before the winter really set in. It was a time for fortune telling and playing games such as apple-bobbing. It was especially a night for young women to find out their marriage prospects through such omens as the shape made by the continuous peel of an apple or the behaviour of nuts on the hearth. The apple peel thrown over the young woman’s shoulder, its shape on landing would indicate the initial of her future husband. The nuts on the hearth were lined up and given the name of prospective husbands. Then the young woman would say,

If you love me pop and fly,
If you hate me burn and die.

Apples were sacred to the Celts as were hazelnuts, which may explain these traditions. To guarantee a dream of her future love a young woman could make her shoes form a ‘T’ shape, a potent talisman symbolising the hammer of the Norse god Thor. She would then say,

Hoping this night my true love to see,
I place my shoes in the form of a ‘T’.

It is also one of the best days to see faeries, at twilight and midnight when the moon is full. However, anyone looking for faeries should be sure to keep a running stream between them and the faeries. They should also be sure to carry a cross of cold iron, which the faeries dislike.


This is why I love All Hallows Eve. It is more an English festival in the feast day sense. Which may explain why for the French, the dull Day of the Dead merely means a chance to remember their dead and then go home. On the other hand it could be a great opportunity to indulge once home in autumnal food! And of course wine... a good glass of claret or Chateauneuf du Pape would be good!

Trick or treat tho' is an American spin on the festival, that has partly come back to Britain. Generally it's still not caught on here. It's seen here as an American thing.

It should not be confused with November the 5th tho'. That commemorates the day when 17th century terrorists tried to blow up Parliament when the King was at Westminster. Guido Fawkes and his co-conspirators were caught in the act hence the rhyme afterwards,

Remember, remember
The 5th of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot!

Nowadays, Bonfire Night involves an effigy of Guy Fawkes burned on a bonfire along with fireworks and a general good time is had by all.
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 6:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it's wonderful that cultures have their own indigenous holidays. So hooray for people who don't let commerce drive their wagon and hooray for people who share their traditions even when the larger culture is doing something else.

Donna- I hadn't thought what it would be like to have a classroom of kids on the day after. I had preschoolers whose parents were pretty successful at limits at least for the 2-4yos. And my kids went to a school with, wisely I think, had a day off on Nov. 1. But your tale of Halloween at school reminds me that I used to send these cookies to school for the kids' classroom Halloween parties:


Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Lemon Icing
Recipe By: Libby Foods

For cookies:
• 1/2 cup shortening
• 1 cup sugar
• 2 egg
• 1 cup pumpkin puree
• 2 cup all purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
• 1/4 teaspoon ginger
• 1 cup golden raisins
• 1 cup nuts, chopped

For icing:
• 2 cup confectioners' sugar
• 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon lemon zest, firmly packed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For Cookies, cream shortening. Gradually beat in sugar. Add eggs and pumpkin. Mix well. Set aside.

Sift dry ingredients together. Add to pumpkin mixture. Add raisins and nuts.

Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls onto greased baking sheets. Flatten slightly with a flat-bottomed glass dipped in water every 2 or 3 cookies as needed. Bake about 15 minutes or until firm to touch. Remove cookies to cool on rack. Ice with Lemon Frosting when cool.

For Lemon Frosting, combine the ingredients adding just enough milk for a spreading consistency.

Makes 4 dozen

Notes: Pumpkin in a cookie! These are soft and cakey. They have an interesting combination of rich, spicy, not too sweet flavor that is accented by the sweet-tart lemon glaze for complexity.


They are what began my love affair with pumpkin. The kids brought them to school in handled baskets with plastic ants and flies scattered over them and plastic spiders suspended on threads from the handles.
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, I enjoy the holidays I celebrate but I deeply wish we got to learn more about other holidays around the world. How they originated. How they're celebrated? How they're changing?

It's a sort of cultural anthropology. The reason I brought Halloween up, for instance, is I'm curious how it originated in Ireland and really took hold in the US but didn't in other English-speaking cultures.

And then, of course, is the business of how much different holidays share with one another. Like how our Halloween coincides with La Dia de los Muertes and how they each deal with the loss of our dead. LDdlM, directly, and Halloween, tangentially and almost unrecognizably at this point.
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Erin



Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound

PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 11:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Griffin,
Hadn't heard of Guy Fawkes until a few days ago when I finally saw "V for Vendetta". I didn't realise he was real. Why is this day celebrated?
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charlsy



Joined: 08 Aug 2006
Posts: 136
Location: France, Bordeaux

PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 9:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Griffin, great post ! I knew a few things about the origins of Halloween, and your info is a great addition to my personal "inner library" !
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Erin



Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound

PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 12:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

After my last post I made a mention of it to my husband, who was dismayed at my lack of knowledge on the subject. Wow. I have been thoroughly filled in.
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clivia



Joined: 25 Sep 2006
Posts: 6
Location: Stockholm Sweden

PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 1:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The shopkeepers do their best to get us Swedes to celebrate Halloween but most of us don´t, anyway. It was more going on a couple of years ago with "scary" parties (I myself hosted a spider party once at Halloween) but now you don´t see much of it. But many children think it is fun to dress up and beg for candy and why not? It is so dark this time of year here!
The big holiday this time of year in Sweden is All Saint´s Day next weekend, November 4th, when we remember friends and relatives who has passed away. All graveyards are filled with lanterns and it is also common to put decorations made of pine, spruce, cones and other autumnal things on the graves. It is very very beautiful! Perhabs not a very merry holiday, but I like it anyway. You need a bit of both in your life, don´t you?
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Griffin



Joined: 09 Jun 2006
Posts: 932
Location: England

PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 3:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Erin,

Ahem, so now you know. One place it is celebrated is in Lewes, Sussex where Protestantism was so strong that not that long after effigies of the Pope were plonked on bonfires in Lewes. More recently it was Maggie Thatcher and no doubt before long it will be Tony Blair!

Rainey,

Many of our big holidays have their roots in pagan festivals. Easter is from the Saxon festival for Eostre, goddess of the Dawn. Christmas was originally Yule and in Scandinavia people often wish each other 'God Jul'. It's a matter of history. The coming of Christianity meant that the church had to consolidate it's power in Europe. In Britain it did that by assimilating Christian festivals into the pagan ones. It worked! But the roots of the original festivals still show through in little ways.

I agree with you too, I prefer the myth and magic of these festivals rather than the rush to make money out of them.

The All Saint's Day became more popular because of the potency of Christianity through Europe, hence it's easy transference to the US. Mostly it comes from, as Clivia says, the season being so dark. The harvest is over and people want to celebrate it being over and to also cheer themselves up in the dark days of autumn.
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David



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1855
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A big thanks to Griffin and Clivia for their contributions!
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