Holidays

Halloween: Trick-or-Treat, Hocus Pocus & spooky story

I love autumn. The cool breeze of the season, the orange-yellow leaves on the trees and the rainy days that are ideal for a hot drink, accompanied by a good book. But what fascinates me the most is the favorite holiday of Halloween. Specifically, it is celebrated the night of October 31st and this year for the first time I decided to decorate my house. Lighted pumpkins, bats, witches, ghosts, spiders, candies, scary sounds, trick-or-treat and watching the amazing Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy in all time classic “Hocus Pocus” that has become a cult.

Although, in Greece or at least in Athens, the leaves of the trees do not turn yellow in autumn. Seems like they are always green, even in winter. In addition, Halloween is celebrated mainly in the US and Canada, while children here do not go “trick-or-treating” at night, in scary costumes. But does it really matter? I love this holiday and I was lucky enough to experience the original version of it, up close. Twenty-two years ago. Back in 2000. When I was living in Toronto with my mother.

The first time, I dressed as the Grim Reaper. Creepy I know, but as a teenager back then I wanted to make the difference, you know. I was wearing a black, long hooded overcoat, with a black handkerchief tied around my face, to only show my eyes. A neighbor and friend of ours had asked me to go trick-or-treating with her kids, in the neighborhood. Truly, it was a unique and unrepeatable experience. Since that day, Halloween has become my second favorite holiday. Certainly, the first one is Christmas.

I remember all those houses that were extremely, but simultaneously, beautifully decorated. Every Halloween, people there put emphasis on details while decorating their yards and houses. With love and enthusiasm for tradition, they create spectacular results.

The area where we lived had mainly two-storey houses with beige or pink bricks. They had gable roofs and white, rectangular windows, reminding me of a fairy-tale. Freshly cut grass with a narrow, paved passage in between, was at the front part of each house.

I remember a particular house on that day. It had the most perfect decoration. Approaching the entrance, to the right and left there were carved, lighted pumpkins. Also, lighted, orange and black lanterns were spread all over the grass. A big witch on a broom was hung on a column that joined the last step of the entrance. While we passed next to her, her eyes lit up red and she cried a creepy laughter. Countless bats and spiders that were going up and down, hung from the ceiling. In addition, there was a mist effect and fake spider-web all over the place. I am definitely missing some more details after so many years.

When we rang the bell, the door opened slowly. Then, we heard a scream and a door creaking. But before we got to say “trick or treat”, a skeleton hand with a basket full of all kinds of candies and sweets, made its appearance. It was not scary. Instead, I would describe it as magical and fun. We walked for about two hours and collected the most incredible sweets you can imagine. While all the houses were marvelously immersed in the spirit of Halloween. I believe that the horror and the mysticism that this holiday emanates, combined with the warm atmosphere that people create through the fantastic decorations of their homes, are exactly those elements that attract the love and interest of the people about Halloween.

However, Halloween is much more than “trick or treating”. What exactly does it represent? After all, why is there this iconic, carved pumpkin everywhere?

The word Halloween comes from All Hallow Even and symbolizes the eve of All Hallows Day, which is celebrated each year on November 1st. Halloween originates from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts lived 2,000 years ago, mostly in the area that is now Ireland, the UK and northern France. To them, this day symbolized the end of the summer harvest and the beginning of winter. According to various traditions, with the change of the season, the gates of the underworld opened wide and contact with the spirit world could be achieved. Meanwhile, the supernatural activity got very intense.

Celts believed that on that day the boundary between the living and the dead world became blurred. While the ghosts of the dead returned to earth, to enter a body and become immortal. Thus, each Halloween, people wear spooky costumes and make a fuss to scare and send away the dead and ghosts.

Today, instead of a dark ritual, Halloween has adopted a more festive and amusing character. It is a night of fun, teasing and masquerade. The characteristic colors of the holiday are black and orange, where black symbolizes the “underworld”, while orange symbolizes the autumn harvest.

Finally, the pumpkin custom originates from an old Irish legend of the stingy Jack, who had deceived the devil with cunning. When he died, neither God accepted him in heaven, nor the devil in hell, because of his miserable and evil character. When Jack asked the devil, how he would find a way out of the darkness, the devil threw a burning coal at him. Jack carved a radish he had in his bag and put the coal inside.

Since then, he wanders around the world and cannot find a place to rest his soul. So, every Halloween, the Irish carve radishes and pumpkins and place candles inside. Then, they put them next to windows to keep away the evil spirits, but also the spirit of the lazy and deceitful Jack.

Do you like Halloween?

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