Halloween: Old and Current Celebrations. From Eire to Brooklyn

Halloween: Old and Current Celebrations. From Eire to Brooklyn
Isabel del Rio

Halloween: From Eire to Brooklyn, NY. Storefront for Arts and Architecture.

Halloween Decorations

Halloween Decorations

Celtic culture used to celebrate the end of the harvest with a big party, baptized with the Gaelic word of Samhain (etymologically, it means ‘summer end’). From then on, days would be shorter and nights longer, it was time of storing supplies and sacrificing animals to the hard winter. But, of course, it was also good to please gods so they were kind to the men in the next year. Thus, the night of Samhain, Celts went from house to house collecting food for offerings to them. Old rituals included human sacrifices. Yes, a black night.

The spirits of the dead people returned to visit the Earth. They lit bonfires to ward off evil spirits, and they walked among the shadows with a special candle which consisted of a big turnip with a hole, where they put a burning coal. Fear and excitement, that night the door to the afterlife was opened and the living and the dead had the opportunity to communicate.

In fact, the Night of Samhain (now Halloween) was the evening party of the New Year’s.

After their Romanization and with the rise of the Christian religion, the pagan celebration was Christianized as the day after ‘All Saints'(All Hallow’s Eve).

Halloween Pumpkins

Halloween Pumpkins

Mid eighteenth century, Irish immigrants came to America and with them Samhain night. At first, the celebration suffered big repression by the authorities of New England, since they were of Lutheran tradition. But in the late nineteenth century, the United States received a new wave of Irish immigrants. Then, the ancient Irish celebration mixed with Indian traditions will peak. The turnip was replaced by a pumpkin, because the legend of Jack-o-lantern (‘Jack who lives in the lamp’ or ‘Jack O’Lantern’) began to spread. This legend had its origin in a quarrelsome Irishman named Jack who one night, on October 31, has encountered with the devil himself.

Currently, the night of Halloween day (celebrated in very many countries) includes: telling of ghost stories and performing antics (mischief-making), jokes (fortunes) or traditional dances. People begin to sew costumes (disguises) or costumes for Halloween (Halloween costumes)… A great variety of diversions, sometimes days before October 31. For example, Storefront for Art and Architecture

has prepared at the Autumn Bowl (67 West Street in Brooklyn, NY, on October 27, 2012 (10 pm til late) a Critical Halloween, ‘On Banality, On Metaphor’, Exploring the Most Feared Ghost in Art and Architectural Production.

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Enjoy Halloween day!


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