Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Holloween?

Like many traditions around the world, it looses its true meaning after a few years or generations. In recent decades, due in part to globalization, traditions are infected with foreign ideas and concepts in order to make it appear hip or cool. We can blame that on the changing taste in every generation, too. Traditions needs to be hip because of their shortening attention span and 'evolved' ideals of modern.

Take for example Halloween. How was it integrated with our traditions? I remember back then when 'trick or treat' can only be heard in American TV series or movies. After an on and off stint in an upscale village in Alabang, some malls followed suit, and now its a major marketing strategy in majority of the malls/park/community center. Having the little ones in costumes and run around shops and communities with that familiar 'trick or treat'.

How fast the people adapted to the new fad of costumes and parties and celebrations without knowing the meaning of it all. It all reminds me of this girl selling Che Guevarra t-shirts saying that he's the vocalist for Rage Against the Machine. How about you, do you know the true reasons for all this new fangled traditions that you emulate?. As a lot of different cultures has their own way of remembering their dead, they mostly fall on the same date, Oct.31, Nov.1 and Nov.2.

First of all, the tradition of wearing costumes and grotesque masks. This was probably derived from the Celtic tradition of Samhain. It is believed that on this day, both good and evil spirits cross over to the mortal realm. While spirits of their ancestors are welcomed and honored, the evil spirits are warded off by dressing up to appear as malevolent spirits as well, making them ignore the household they are passing by.

The jack-o-lantern, a common symbol of holloween, was actually derived from the Celtic tradition of carving out turnips with faces and placed on windows to ward off evil spirits. The pumpkin head only came to be with the American settlers since pumkins were easier to find and carve. This tradition is also rooted in Irish traditions during harvest time.

The 'trick or treat'-ing is similar to the Middle Age practice where the poor would go door to door and offer to pray for the souls of the departed in exchange for food or money during the period of Hallowmas. This practice has it local counterpart during All-Soul's day called the 'magdadasal'. They are also called upon to pray on the 40th day after a departed relative is interred. In its more modern incarnate, children will give a (mostly) idle threat of mischief if no treats were given.

Halloween parties are also rooted in celebrations where farmers prepare their stock for the upcoming winter, usually around the same period as Hollowmas. Traditional party games for this occassion can still be seen in some American Holloween parties today.

Although there is no single religion attributed to the creation of hollow's eve but a mixture of practices from various traditions from the Celtic, Scottish, Irish and the like. It all comes from the need to revere the relatives who has passed on and honoring their memory.

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