Canada - Halloween All Hallows Eve

Halloween All Hallows Eve

This year: Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Halloween All Hallows Eve

Halloween is a holiday celebrated on the night of October 31 and it has its roots in the ancient Celtic celebration of Samhain (the Celtic lord of human death), which means end of summer. The Celts believed that November 1 was the beginning of winter and so October 31 was the time to slaughter the cattle and get ready for the winter snow. As well, there was an antique Gaelic belief that on October 31, the boundary between the alive and the deceased disappeared, and the dead become quite dangerous by causing to people different problems related to sickness or crops. The Celts believed that Samhain allowed the souls of the dead to return to their homes for that evening.

This celebration of death and the coming of winter happened just before All Saints Day of the Christian calendar. All Saints Day was referred to as All Hallows, so Halloween was also specified as All-Hallow-Even, or the night before All Hallows. This was afterwards shortened to Hallowe'en. Over time the apostrophe was dropped and it became simply Halloween.

Christians have always felt a little uneasy about celebrating Halloween in conjunction with All Saints Day. Many churches choose to completely ignore Halloween and focus only on All Saints Day. But Halloween has survived over the years and has quickly become one of the most colorful and celebrated pagan festivals in countries such as the United States and Canada.

In Canada the holiday was brought in by the Scottish people who had been celebrating Samhain for centuries. In fact, around 1800, when the holiday developed into Halloween, the Scottish brought it to Canada. Contrary to popular beliefs there is no trick or treats in the Scottish Halloween. Children would only dress up as fairies and carry around a Neepy Candle, representing a devil face carved into a candle, to scare away demons. Trick or treats was something that moved from the United States into Canada in the early 1900's. Nevertheless, the Scottish did introduce the tradition of bobbing for apples into the Canadian Halloween celebration. Originally called docking for apples (in Scotland this may be called "dooking," i.e. ducking), it has changed over the years. Traditionally, apples where suspended on strings above a tank full of water, which, actually, could be dangerous. These Scottish traditions of Samhain, or Halloween, were centuries old and the Canadian people opened to them with great enthusiasm.

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