Without going into pagan tradition, Halloween is a celebration of the cycles of life. As the wheel turn so too does the seasons, the year and all that is integral for life. Originating in Ireland, Halloween is associated with the Celtic festival known as Samhain. The day was celebrated as the end of summer and the beginning of a long cold winter.
The celebrators of Samhain believed that on the eve of Samhain the veils between the Heaven and Earth thinned and the dead returned to walk the Earth with the living. It was also believed that some of the dead would return to create trouble and destroy crops and property. So the ancient Celts would light bonfires and honour the dead hoping to appease any of the more disgruntled spirits and hopefully protect them from disaster in the coming winter months.
History even demonstrates the European Christians acknowledged a similar festival known as All Soul’s Day. Bonfires would be lit, costumes donned and acknowledgement of the past saints and martyrs was celebrated. Eventually the lines became blurred between Samhain and All Saints Day with Halloween becoming a popular celebration across Europe and America.
In American Halloween became popular due to an influx of European settlers during the nineteenth century and slowly it grew to be symbol of community more than a celebration of the dead. Still the festival has a theme around ghosts, witches and all things considered “unholy” but ultimately it has become a time for children to dress up and move safely around their neighbourhood “trick-or-treating”, enjoying games with family and friends and sharing in fun and frivolity.
Obviously America is in the Northern Hemisphere so the celebration of Halloween is still traditionally held in the time of the year that marks a move from the warmer summer months into the cooler months. With Australia being in the Southern Hemisphere the celebration of Halloween should be acknowledged in May if we wish to stick to the traditional meaning of the festival. However if we acknowledge Halloween as a symbol of community, friendship, fun and frivolity then I do not see a problem with celebrating it at the end of October. For me personally I would like to acknowledge another festival known as Beltane which was traditionally celebrated in Spring. But that is a completely different article for another day.
I really hope you all enjoy celebrating Halloween and coming together with your neighbours in friendship and fun.