The history of fall holidays

Francesca Divincenzo, Staff writer

For many, Halloween is about being unique, not being the cookie-cutter person that everyone is expected to be on every other day of the year; people can be whoever they want to be.

Halloween is not all about costumes and candy; many other cultures have different traditions. Halloween originated in Ire- land, and to this day Halloween is still celebrated as much as it is celebrated in the United States.

In rural areas, bonfires are lit as they were in the days of the Celts, and children get dressed up in costumes and spend the evening “trick-or-treating” in their neighborhoods.

After trick-or-treating, most people attend parties with neighbors and friends. At the parties, many games are played, including “snap-apple,” a game in which an apple on a string is tied to a door frame or tree and players attempt to bite the hanging apple.

In addition to snap-apple, parents often arrange treasure hunts, with candy or pastries as the treasure.

The Irish also play a card game where cards are laid face down on a table with candy or coins underneath them. When a child chooses a card, he receives whatever prize is found below it.

When Halloween night comes to a close and costumes are being taken off, a different holiday is just beginning in Mexico. El Día de los Muertos or “Day of the Dead” is a three-day celebration that begins on All Hallow’s Eve. El Día de los Muertos is a holiday celebrated in Mexico, Latin America and Spain.

All Souls’ Day, which takes place on Nov. 2, is commemorated with a three-day celebration that begins on the evening of Oct. 31. The celebration is designed to honor the dead who, it is believed, return to their earthly homes on Halloween.

Many families construct an ofrenda, an altar, to the dead in their homes to honor deceased relatives. They decorate it with candy, flowers, photographs and samples of the favorite foods of departed loved ones. Often, a wash basin and towel are left out so that the spirit can wash before indulging in the feast. There are often parades in which people dress up and celebrate other’s lives.

Although death can be very morbid at times, it is honored and celebrated on All Souls’ Day. The day gives everyone a chance to appreciate life.

In England, Guy Fawkes Day is celebrated. On the evening of Nov. 5, bonfires are lit throughout England. Effigies are burned and fireworks are set off.

Although it falls around the same time as Halloween and has some similar traditions, this celebration has little to do with Halloween or the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain.

The English, for the most part, stopped celebrating Halloween as Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation began to spread. As followers of the new religion did not believe in saints, they had no reason to celebrate the eve of All Saints’ Day.

Guy Fawkes Day festivities were designed to commemorate the execution of a notorious English traitor, Guy Fawkes. Like El Día de los Muertos, death is commemorated and celebrated, the English commemorate Guy Fawkes.

Many different traditions all around the world are celebrated while America is celebrating Halloween. It is a day to remember those who have passed on and appreciate life.