Halloween festival in the US

(VOVWORLD) - "Trick or treat?", “Hello!”, “Anybody home?” Don’t be surprised if children knock at your door asking for candy. It’s Halloween. Halloween, celebrated on the night of October 31st, is most popular in the United States and Canada but is now celebrated in many other countries, including Vietnam. Joe Fitzsimmons, an English language teacher, photographer, and big fan of Halloween, is here with us today on our weekly Culture Rendezvous to talk about Halloween in the US. 

Hi Joe! Can you tell us something about the history of Halloween?

Just from my own experience and from liking history, I have been able to learn something. Generally speaking, Halloween has its root, its origin in ancient, very old European traditions, specifically from the pagan Celtic festival of Samhain. So just a little background,  Pagan refer religious beliefs not part of the main religions, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc. And The Celtic people were Irish (Ireland), Scottish Gaelic (Northern Scotland, Welsh (Wales). The pagan Celtic festival of the Samhain is the origin of Halloween. Samhain is celebrated from 31 October to 1 November and the festival is still celebrated even today around the world. But traditionally it was celebrated at the end of the summer, and it represented the start of winter, the coldest half and darker half of the year. But in particular, it was the festival of dead. Because at the end of the summer, nature is changing and t reflects nature’s rhythms and process, at the end of the harvest season and growing season finished. The farmers gather and collect the crops. Winter comes, plants and vegetation dies, and there is death in nature. At this Samhain festival, people feel the closest connection between the world of the living & realm/world of the Dead. It is also an important time for the livings to communicate with their loved ones, family and friends who have died. 

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Wow! You sound like a real historian. What are some popular ways to celebrate Halloween?

 And at this festival people would light bonfires (huge fires) and wear costumes to protect themselves from ghosts and spirits. As a lot of things over time, the tradition of Halloween just became more modern and more fun. And that takes us to modern day, where Halloween at least in USA and many other countries, I am sure even in Vietnam. It has become more about fun, costume and candy.

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For people who don't know what” trick or treat” is, kids and some adults but mostly kids, dress up in customs, going around the neighborhood and ring the bell or knock at the door and ask for candy. And they said “Trick or Treat?”. And the owner of the house will give each kid candy. The word "trick" implies a "threat" to perform mischief on the homeowners or their property if no treat is given. Some of the most popular kind of candies are chocolate, flavored little candies like lemon, lime, liquor ice. That's what I remember most from my childhood. 

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What are the most popular Halloween costumes? Aren’t Halloween costumes traditionally based on supernatural figures?

Well, Vampires, monsters, ghosts, skeletons, witches, and devils.  Over time, in the United States, the costume selection extended to include popular characters from fiction, celebrities, and generic archetypes such as ninjas and princesses.  Little kids like to dress up as animals or insects. Some of the older people like to dress up like famous people, singers, actors, presidents, criminals...As a child; I pretty much stayed with the basic stuffs like a mommy or ghost. At school we would have costume contest. 

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Pumpkins are fun. They make for great decorations around the houses. Before electricity, people would carry a carved pumpkin with the candle inside which is called jack-o'-lantern (or jack o'lantern) is a carved pumpkin lantern. In a jack-o'-lantern, the top of the pumpkin or turnip is cut off to form a lid, the inside flesh is scooped out, and an image — usually a monstrous or comical face – is carved out of the rind to expose the hollow interior.

                                                                                      Minh My