October 31st, Scariest Night Of The Year
The spookiest night of the year is here! Though the tradition is not a common practice in Africa, the annual occasion of Halloween falls on October 31. The festival is marked in many western countries, and recently, many people in urban This is believed to be the most scary night when spirits from the netherworld visit the earth.
When you come to Africa, and into the deep remote villages, one thing that will strike you so vividly is the scarry pitch-dark nights. It is common for most cultures in Africa to associate evil with darkness. As a result, many people fear being out in such dark nights. However, that doesn’t transcend the horrors associated with a Western Pagan Festival called Halloween celebrated on 31st day of October every year celebrated mostly in Europe and America. It is believed to be the most scarry night of the year.
Though the tradition is not a common practice in Africa, every year on October 31, people celebrate Halloween. It is the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Saints, as well as the start of the three-day season of Allhallowtide, which culminates with All Souls' Day. This night is believed to mark a time of the year when the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead become blurred and negligible. It is believed that the spirits of the dead return to the earth on this night.
Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (a pagan religious festival), when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. These Celts lived 2,000 years ago, mostly in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and Northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1.
This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death.
Because the Celts believed that the barrier between worlds of the living and the dead was breachable during Samhain, they prepared offerings that were left outside villages and fields for fairies.
It was expected that ancestors might cross over during this time as well, and Celts would dress as animals and monsters so that fairies were not tempted to kidnap them.
Celts also believed that the presence of the netherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort during the long, dark winter.
To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes.
When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.
Today, the name ‘Halloween’ is linked to the Christian festival of ‘All Hallows’ or ‘All saints’, which is celebrated on the 1st of November. This is traditionally a day on which the Catholic church remembers the lives of the deceased ‘saints’ and ‘martyrs.’
The culture was incorporated into Christianity in the eighth century when Pope Gregory III, designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints. Soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. It is widely believed today, that the church was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, church-sanctioned holiday.
All Souls’ Day was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels and devils.
Today, Halloween has evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, festive gatherings, donning costumes and eating treats.
Superstitions and Halloween Ghosts
Halloween has always been a holiday filled with mystery, magic and superstition. It began as a Celtic end-of-summer festival during which people felt especially close to deceased relatives and friends. For these friendly spirits, they set places at the dinner table, left treats on doorsteps and along the side of the road and lit candles to help loved ones find their way back to the spirit world.
Today’s Halloween ghosts are often depicted as more fearsome and malevolent, and people’s customs and superstitions have become scarier too. People avoid crossing paths with black cats, afraid that they might bring us bad luck. This idea has its roots in the Middle Ages, when many people believed that witches avoided detection by turning themselves into black cats.
Halloween celebrants engage in different activities such as; Carving pumpkins into a scary face and placing a candle in it then leaving it in the window.
Children also dress up in a Halloween costume and go to their neighbors’ houses, knock on the door and say ‘Trick or Treat’. The neighbor must give them sweets or chocolate (a ‘treat’) or the children will play a trick on the neighbor, for example they will throw an egg at the neighbor’s house.
Teenagers and adults celebrate Halloween with costume parties which involve dressing up as ghosts or witches and going to parties in houses or discos.
The day is also marked by watching horror films. Today, there are lots of horror films called ‘Halloween’.
Also, on this day, people celebrate by wishing each other Halloween wishes and scarry quotes.