Anonymous
Anonymous asked in Society & CultureHolidaysHalloween · 1 decade ago

When is Halloween and what does it mean and why do only Americans celebrate it?

Update:

I would actually disagree that a lot of the western world have embraced it as part of American popular culture, well at least in Australia and New Zealand as it is not celebrated really at all.......we only see it on TV and know kids dress up and trick or treat....

Update 2:

Is it similar to the "night of the dead in" Mexico (i think that is what it's called) where they go to graves and light bright candles etc?

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Halloween (IPA pronunciation: [hælə'win], [hælo'win]) is an observance celebrated on the night of October 31, most notably by children dressing in costumes and going door-to-door collecting sweets. It is celebrated in much of the Western world, though most common in Canada, the United States, Puerto Rico, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and with increasing popularity in Australia and New Zealand. Halloween originated among the Celts in Ireland, Britain and France as a pagan Celtic harvest festival. Irish, Scots and other immigrants brought older versions of the tradition to North America in the 19th century. Most other Western countries have embraced Halloween as a part of American pop culture in the late 20th century.

    The term Halloween, and its older spelling Hallowe'en, is shortened from All-hallow-even, as it is the evening before "All Hallows' Day" (also known as "All Saints' Day"). In Ireland, the name was All Hallows' Eve (often shortened to Hallow Eve), and though seldomly used today, it is still a well accepted label. Halloween was also sometimes called All Saints' Eve. The holiday was a day of religious festivities in various northern European pagan traditions, until it was appropriated by Christian missionaries and given a Christian interpretation. Halloween is also called Pooky Night in some parts of Ireland, presumably named after the púca, a mischievous spirit.

    Halloween is sometimes associated with the occult. Many European cultural traditions hold that Halloween is one of the liminal times of the year when the spiritual world can make contact with the physical world and when magic is most potent

    The imagery surrounding Halloween is largely an amalgamation of the Autumn season itself, nearly a century of work from American filmmakers and graphic artists, and a rather commercialized take on the dark, occult and mysterious. This imagery generally involves death, magic, or mythical monsters. Commonly-associated Halloween characters include ghosts, aliens, ghouls, witches, bats, owls, crows, vultures, haunted houses, pumpkinmen, black cats, spiders, goblins, zombies, mummies, skeletons, werewolves, and demons. Particularly in America, symbolism is inspired by classic film, such as fictional figures like Dracula and Frankenstein's monster in the vein of Boris Karloff and Alfred Hitchcock. Homes are often decorated with these symbols around Halloween.

    Black and orange are the traditional colors of Halloween. In modern Halloween images and products, purple, green, and red are also prominent.

    The use of these colors is largely a result of advertising for the holiday that dates back for over a century. They tend to be associated with various parts of Halloween's imagery.

    Elements of the autumn season, such as pumpkins and scarecrows, are also reflected in symbols of Halloween.

    The carved jack-o'-lantern, lit by a candle inside, is one of Halloween's most prominent symbols. Although there is a tradition in the British Isles of carving a lantern from a rutabaga, mangelwurzel, or turnip, the practice was first named and associated with Halloween in North America, where the pumpkin was available, and much larger and easier to carve. Many families that celebrate Halloween carve a pumpkin into a frightening or comical face and place it on their home's doorstep after dark.

  • 1 decade ago

    In the Philippines, we celebrate it with native delicacies and a variety of food menu some of which are brought to the cemetery anytime from October 31st until November 2 when all roads lead there because people from all walks of life go and gather around the tombs of their loved ones. There is a brief solemn remembering and praying for the departed, and meaningful and emotional reunions of kins who leave their places of work in far places just to pay visits to the tombs of parents and close relatives. Tombs are whitewashed or repainted while the surrounding spaces are being degrassed. Everybody can smell the scents of flowers, lighted candles, paint, and burning grasses.

    When meals are through, some would go back home while others prefer to stay in the evening until morning singing karaoke or videoke favorites on their brought along music machines and enjoying the colors and coolness of the night. For others who want to stay awake, games are played among kins and friends. Some others particularly men gather around and drink beer or wine or gin or brandy. The effects of too much alcohol intake by some would be either a bad or good news, the doers of which could not but express regret later.

    On the next day, another throng of people arrive, congesting traffic and doing the same activities as the previous visitors did.

    On the third day, less number of people would be arriving those who could not make it earlier. Later in the afternoon the cemetery starts to be empty and gets clear before the 4th day as everybody awaits Christmas.

    The Filipino celebration of halloween is not scary. It is sacred, familial, merry and holy. With terrorism getting the nerves of everyone, Filipinos are least bothered but take extra precaution and are a bit assuaged by the presence of uniformed and civilian security elements taking turns securing the area. What is important to them is that they have come and are remembered to have remembered the dead on these days.

  • 1 decade ago

    Halloween is celebrated during the eve of November 1. It usually celebrated during October 31 or 30. Halloween was invented by the Celts. Halloween came from "All-Hallow-Even". Yeah, many western countries only celebrate this kind of event, especially in US, Canada and in UK. But it's becoming popular in Australia and in New Zealand. Here in the Philippines, we celebrate halloween by watching scary movies in DVD or in the televison, while grown-ups usually habg out in bars and events that have themes of Halloween gathering. While in some rich places in the Philippines, the kids usually do the trick-or-treat habit around the neighborhood.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Halloween is an observance celebrated on the night of October 31, most notably by children dressing in costumes and going door-to-door collecting sweets. It is celebrated in much of the Western world, though most common in Canada, the United States, Puerto Rico, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and with increasing popularity in Australia and New Zealand. Halloween originated among the Celts in Ireland, Britain and France as a pagan Celtic harvest festival. Irish, Scots and other immigrants brought versions of the tradition to North America in the 19th century. Most other Western countries have embraced Halloween as a part of American pop culture in the late 20th century.

    more on Halloween (including history) here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween

    Source(s): Wikipedia rules!
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  • 1 decade ago

    It's a sacred night to many other belief systems, and is called different names and celebrated at different times throughout the world. In the Western world, yes it does seem like it's a big deal..But so is Xmas and Thanksgiving. These are also celebrated differently by the different belief systems. Oct. 31st, most American's celebrate Halloween.

    For me it is a special night to honor our loved ones who have passed over. You can do a search for the history of it, it's quite interesting.

  • 1 decade ago

    Nothing fancy, but Halloween is Oct. 31 it means night of the dead. People give out treats to avoid being bothered by the "Spirits of the dead". That's where they got the saying "Trick or Treat". It's not only celebrated in America.

  • 1 decade ago

    1st of all its not just Americans who celebrate it, its celebrated all round the world.

    To most people, Halloween is a fun holiday to dress up and eat candy. Well, even Pagans like to eat candy on Halloween, but we consider it to be a very important holiday in a more spiritual sense as well.

    The proper name for the occassion is Samhain (pronounced Sow-en or Sow-een). It's sometimes referred to as the Witches New Year, because our religious year starts/ends with Samhain. The holiday began being called "Halloween" because the Catholic church created All Saints Day (or All Hallows Day) on November 1st, in an attempt to turn people away from the original Pagan holiday. The night before became known as "All Hallows Eve", which then got shortened up to Halloween.

    If you are concerned about the Pagan nature of October 31st, then you should probably stop celebrating Christmas and Easter, too. Though those holidays have been thoroughly adopted by the Christian religion, they were both originally Pagan celebrations (Yule and Ostara). Halloween is the only holiday that has kept most of its Pagan meanings, without the Christian overtones.

    Many fundamentalist Christian groups stand against the celebration of Halloween because they feel it is associated with demons and Satan. Unfortunately, most (if not all) of their 'facts' are incorrect.

    The most common error, is that Halloween is celebrated to honour the Celtic God of the Dead, Samhain. The Celts had no such God. The word "Samhain" more likely came from "samhuinn", which is the Gaelic word for "summer's end". A fitting name, since that is precisely what this holiday is celebrating.

    There is nothing Satanic about Halloween, either in modern times, or in the early history of the festival. Of course, there is nothing Satanic about any aspects of Wicca, witchcraft or Paganism, but that's another story altogether. We don't celebrate black masses, conduct sacrifices or cast hexes on Halloween (or any other day!)

    So now you know what Halloween isn't, but what does Halloween mean? Well, to Pagans who celebrate Samhain, it is the third and last of the year's harvest festivals. The crops are in, and it's time to relax and prepare for the long winter ahead. Samhain is a time to reflect on the events of the past year, and to remember those who have passed away. It's at this time of the year that spirits travel from this world to the next. Both good and evil spirits.

    Part of the mythology of the holiday is that the God dies at Samhain, and the Goddess mourns Him until His rebirth at Yule. It is Her mourning that brings about the shorter, cold days of winter. After His birth at Yule, the days begin to get longer again.

    Many of the symbols and traditions that we see around Halloween today can be traced to earlier times. Carving of jack-o-lanterns probably started with turnips rather than pumpkins, but the idea is the same either way. With the spirits of the dead travelling on this day, people would carve faces into turnips (or gourds or whatever) in order to scare away any evil spirits. The dressing up in costumes was also done to scare off bad spirits.

    The idea of playing tricks was not done maliciously, but just as a way of having a bit of fun before the long dark winter settled in. The original gathering of treats was done to provide offerings to the Gods, in thanks for the harvest.

    Personally, I leave a candle lit in the window along with a food offering for the spirits that might pass my way.

    One last word. Many fundamentalist Christian groups have a strong negative bias towards any religion that is different from their own. Please keep this in mind when reading their websites for more 'truth' about Halloween.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I would only like to add what we do in Hungary, alhough it's the same as in other places, as I see. We just go to the graveyards and place there flowers and candles, perhaps we even attend a mass, although we are more likely to do that during Christmas.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    31st October. Why? Because America is a capitalist nation. The confectionery industry does a roaring trade every October.

    Kids knocking on doors begging for 'candy'. the makers of lollipops and chocolates make a mint off of the 'holiday'.

    Halloween is a money-spinner. Americans love making money. And they like gimmicks. especially childish ones where children get to dress up and pretend to be something that they are not...only in America.

  • 1 decade ago

    I know Halloween on 31 October. Sorry don't know the reason behind the rest of Halloween. I am a Aussie

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