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  • Isabel Raghoo

What is Halloween all about?

Halloween is an event celebrated in lots of places and countries in the world and every time slightly different (less commonly known as Allhalloween, All Hallows' Eve or all saints’ Eve). Every year on October 31st children go trick or treating and others throw Halloween party's mostly not even wasting a thought on what traditional foods, symbols, and history might be hidden behind this celebration. What sorts of stories lie beneath the surface and why is Halloween so popular these days?

Traditional Halloween foods
  1. Candy corn (a pyramid-shaped candy usually divided into three different sections of colour)

  2. Colcannon (a traditional Irish dish of mashed potatoes with cabbage)

  3. Barmbrack (it is a bread with yeast some also add sultanas and raisins there is also an item placed inside the bread and the person to retrieve this item is considered lucky)

  4. Bonfire toffee (is a hard, brittle toffee associated with Halloween and Guy Fawkes in the United Kingdom, it can taste very strong and cheaper versions will be very bitter)

Symbols that relate to Halloween

A jack-o'-lantern is said to represent a “soul who has been denied entry to heaven and hell”. A quite common Irish Christian folktale also relates to this sentence, and it is told something like this:

“One night jack happens to come face to face with the devil himself and tricks him into climbing a tree then quickly etching the sign of the cross into the bark and by doing so trapping the devil. Jack only lets the devil down when he agrees to a bargain that the devil can never claim his soul. But when jack dies, he is refused entry to heaven due to his life full of sins and the devil keeping his part of the bargain and does not let him in either and throws a piece of coal straight from the fires of hell at him. It was a very cold autumn night, so Jack places the coal in a hollowed-out turnip to stop it from going out and since that very night they have been roaming this world longing for a place to rest.” Instead of a turnip people now use pumpkins because they are easier to carve and there are plenty pumpkins during the time of this event.

Other symbols that are very well known to have something to do with Halloween are skulls, ghosts, black cats, corn husks and scare crows. Other than the symbols of Halloween in general the theme of Halloween is quite simply death; evil and mythical monsters are always at its core. Black, orange and occasionally also purple are associated with Halloween.

Why is Halloween so popular these days?

With things like pumpkin carving and trick or treating in TV shows and more horror stories and movies alike gaining popularity Halloween became more popular during the 20th century.

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