Saturday, 31 October 2015

Halloween 2015

Halloween revellers descend on Woodgrove
Families living in estate open their doors as thousands join in American tradition here

The rain could not keep them at bay. Armed with umbrellas and pitchforks, witches' hats and masks, costumed revellers descended upon the Woodgrove landed estate last night for some Halloween trick-or-treating - a tradition that has been going on in the estate for at least a decade.

"My favourite part is the candy," said seven-year-old Soh Xuan Yi, who came dressed as a pirate. Her family and their friends had come all the way from Bukit Batok to join in the festivities.

Many of those handing out treats were families from the United States, whose children attend the nearby Singapore American School.

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A jack-o'-lantern, one of the symbols of Halloween

Halloween, or Hallowe'en (/ˌhæləˈwiːn, -oʊˈiːn, ˌhɑːl-/; a contraction of All Hallows’ Evening), also known as Allhalloween, All Hallows' Eve, or All Saints' Eve, is a celebration observed in a number of countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows' Day. It begins the three-day observance of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed.

According to one view, All Hallows' Eve is a Christianized observance influenced by Celtic harvest festivals, with possible pagan roots, particularly the Gaelic festival Samhain. Other scholars maintain that it originated independently of Samhain and has solely Christian roots.

Halloween activities include trick-or-treating (or the related guising), attending Halloween costume parties, decorating, carving pumpkins into jack-o'-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing and divination games, playing pranks, visiting haunted attractions, telling scary stories and watching horror films. In many parts of the world, the Christian religious observances of All Hallows' Eve, including attending church services and lighting candles on the graves of the dead, remain popular, although elsewhere it is a more commercial and secular celebration. Some Christians historically abstained from meat on All Hallows' Eve, a tradition reflected in the eating of certain foods on this vigil day, including apples, colcannon, potato pancakes and soul cakes.

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The vast majority of the traditions commonly associated with Halloween today are borrowed or adapted from four different festivals, namely:
  • The Roman Feralia festival, commemorating the dead
  • The Roman Pomona festival, honoring the goddess of fruit and trees
  • The Celtic festival Samuin, meaning “summer’s end”, (also called “Samhain”) which the bulk of Halloween traditions ultimately stem from
  • The Catholic “All Soul’s Day” and “All Saints’ Day”, which was instigated around 800 by the Church to try to replace Samuin
The practice of wearing costumes or masks during this sort of end of Autumn celebration comes from a Celtic end of year (they celebrated their New Year on November 1) Samuin tradition.  During Samuin, young men impersonating evil spirits by dressing up in white costumes with blackened faces or masks.  It was believed that during the transition from one year to the next, the realms of the living and the dead would overlap allowing the dead to roam the Earth again.  Thus, by dressing up as spirits, they were trying to fool actual spirits into thinking they were as well, which is particularly helpful when encountering evil spirits.

Beginning in the 8th century, the Catholic Church was trying to provide an activity that would hopefully stamp out the old Samuin traditions.  They came up with “All Hallows Even (evening)”, “All Soul’s Day”, and “All Saints’ Day”.  Many of the traditions of Samuin were then adapted into these festivities and by the 11th century, the Church had adapted the Celtic costume tradition to dressing up as saints, angels, or demons during this celebration.

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