Origins and meaning of Halloween: thrilling parties

Origins and meaning of Halloween

Nowadays even in the country the feast of the dead is called Halloween and parties are organized for adults and children, but America with "trick or treatHasn't invented anything new. But what is the meaning of Halloween? It is a festival with much more ancient and pagan roots.

The origins of Halloween

  • I Celts they celebrated Samhain (pronounced sauin, but also saun or sevèn) which indicated the winter season. Samhain is also known as Calan Gaeaf in Wales. For the Celts, the new year began with the waxing moon after the autumn equinox in Samhain (November 1), so that it always fell on the same day of the solar cycle. The year consisted of 13 months; 12 like today and a 3-day month at the end of October that linked the old year to the new. Samhain Eve (in Irish Oidhche Shamhna) was the main holiday in the Celtic calendar, probably celebrated on 31 October and represented the latest harvest. 

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Tasty recipes for Halloween | Spooky snacks and treats for the Halloween party

  • Today in Ireland Oíche Shamhna indicates the Halloween night. Bonfires have always played an important role in this holiday. During the night of October 31, gatherings were held in the woods and on the hills for the ceremony of the lighting of the Sacred Fire. Dress in grotesque masks, the Celts returned to the village, making themselves light with lanterns made of carved onions inside which the embers of the Sacred Fire were placed. After these rites the Celts celebrated for three days, masking themselves with the skins of animals killed to scare the spirits. In Ireland, the custom spread to light torches and torches outside the doors and to leave food and milk for the souls of the dead who would visit their families, so that they could refresh themselves and decide not to play tricks on the living.
  • When the cityni came into contact with the Celts, they identified Samhain with their festival of the dead (Lemuria) which, however, was celebrated in the days around 13 May. The celebration of "All Saints", in English" All Saints' Day ", also called" All Hallows' Day "among the ancients, began at sunset on October 31, so on the evening of October 31 it took the name of" All Hallows' Even ", subsequently contracted in "Halloween".
  • The evangelization of the British Isles brought with it a new concept of life, very distant from the Celtic one and during this period the Church tried to eradicate pagan cults, but not always succeeded. Halloween was not completely canceled, but it was somehow Christianized, through the institution of All Saints' Day on November 1st and, subsequently, of the commemoration of the dead on November 2nd.
  • Fu Odilo of Cluny, in 998 AD., to initiate what was to be a new and long-lasting tradition of Western societies. Then he made arrangements for the monasteries dependent on the abbey to celebrate the rite of the dead starting from the vespers of November 1st. Towards the middle of the XNUMXth century, Ireland it was hit by a terrible famine, still remembered today with great participation by the Irish. At that time to escape poverty, many people decided to leave the island and try their luck in the United States, where they created, like many other nationalities, a strong community. Inside it the traditions and customs of their homeland were kept alive, and among them on October 31st Halloween was celebrated. Soon, this custom spread throughout the American people, almost becoming a national holiday. Here, then, are the origins and the meaning of Halloween.
Also read: Fun family traditions for Halloween

The legend of Jack O'Lantern

It tells the story that, many and many years ago, an old blacksmith named Jack, a drunkard and stingy, lived in Ireland and that, on Halloween night, he had met the Devil by chance in a pub, who came to claim his soul. . The old man was about to fall into the hands of Satan, when, with a ruse, he managed to trick him into believing that he would give him his soul in exchange, however, for one last drink. The Devil thus turned into a sixpence to pay the landlord and Jack was quick enough to be able to pocket it. Since, then, he also possessed a silver cross, the Devil was no longer able to return to his original form. Jack then entered into a new pact with the Devil: he would let him go as long as he, for at least 10 years, did not return to claim his soul from him. Satan accepted. Ten years later, Jack and the Devil met again and Jack, always with a ruse, managed to escape the power of the Prince of Darkness and make him promise that he would never seek him again.

The Devil, who was in a difficult situation, could not help but accept. When Jack died, due to his dissolute life, he was not admitted to the Kingdom of Heaven and was forced to knock on the Gates of Hell; the Devil, however, who had promised that he would not seek him, sent him back by throwing at him a burning infernal ember. Jack used it to find the right path and, so that he wouldn't go out with the wind, he put it under the turnip he was eating. When the Irish headed to America, they brought this legend with them, and since turnips are not as widespread in America as they are in Ireland, they replaced them with the more common gourds.


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The traditions of Halloween

We read about Dienneti that it is tradition in Europe and especially in the country to prepare special sweets in the days close to November 2, which often recall this anniversary in the name or in the shape and consistency that of a bone. Another recurring reference is to fingers, while the horse-shaped cake is probably linked to the legend of Proserpina. Therefore, there are many Halloween recipes for children.

  • "Dead beans" or "sweet beans"

almond pastries, ovoid and flattened, sprinkled with icing sugar; they have the appearance of an amaretto, but have a greater consistency (Emilia-la cittàgna, Lazio, Lombardy, Marche). 

  • "Bones to Bite"

hard biscuits, with almonds and egg white (Piedmont and Lombardy)

  • "Bones of the dead"

oblong-shaped biscuits (Veneto), sometimes covered with chocolate (Sicily). In Sicily, according to the original version, the "Dead bones" are very dry and white and brown in color. With sugar, flour, egg white and clove water, they are also called "Paste di Garofano" or "Mustazzola" due to their hardness.

  •  "Fingers of apostle"

hand-shaped dessert, made with egg pasta and filled with ricotta and cream mousse, typical of Sicilian pastry.

  • Sugar puppets (or, in Sicilian: pupaccena, puppets of zuccaro)

present in the Sicilian tradition, these are colored sugar statuettes, reproducing paladins or generic male and female figures (the dead, the ancestors of the family).

  • The "Bones of the Dead"

also present in the Sienese area, with origin in Montepulciano. With a crumbly consistency and round shape, they are mixed with chopped almonds.

  • Derivatives of bread "Horses"

large bread, in the shape of a horse (Trentino Alto Adige). 

  • "The hands"

circular bread with two hands that join together (Sicily).

  • "Bread of the dead"

small sweet rolls, made with crumbled biscuits, filled with candied fruit and packaged on wafers (Lombardy).

edited by Paola Fabris

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