What Halloween has in common with Aztecs, Irish and Religion?

Our Best Costume Picks for Halloween Party

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There seem to be three mainstream historical trends that led to today’s Halloween party fun: two ethnic, the Irish and Aztec, and one religious, the Catholicism. The Irish, that is the ancient Gaels, were scouting Europe and made themselves known all the way to Greece and Egypt, before the First Millennium. Medieval Irish pseudo-histories mention the Egyptian princess Scota and her husband Goídel Glas as settlers. The Gaels believed that on October 31 the boundaries between the realm of the living and dead were close and the devil was in the best position to create havoc. To protect themselves, the Gaels were stocking food for the winter, a good thing, and lit bonfires outside the house, which might have been a bad thing because they attracted the night bugs, which in turn attracted the bats, the blood suckers, thus making things scary. To have a better fun, they rushed inside the house to laugh and dance. On some party occasions, they would wear masks and costumes in an attempt to scare back the devils and vampires.

But scarier things were happening to the hardworking and playful Irish: the Vikings’ systematical plundering for almost 200 years, at the threshold between the First and Second Millenniums. Only at the beginning of the second one had the Vikings been defeated and gradually absorbed later into the Celtic population and its customs. All of this history is not so much for the sake of it but to clarify why an Internet search for Irish Halloween costumes could turn up to be Viking like. So, for the fast and furious men we agree that a Viking Warrior costume will do for Halloween. The good thing about it is that such a costume comes in kids size and the lady of the soul, or the house, could wear nothing (keep reading) else than the Viking Princess.

And since we’re also talking religion here, why not dressing up as Pope and taking a Naughty Nun with you at the party. For sure the former will scare the hell out of the hellish figures but they may not want to go away because of the bad nun’s looks.

Back in the middle of the Second Millennium, after Spanish conquest in Latin America, the Catholic Church brought in the holidays of All Saints Day on November 1st and All Souls Day on the 2nd gradually moving original celebrations of the dead on the continent from August to November. In the Hispanic culture, the two days were dedicated to the kids as the “Día de los Angelitos” (Day of the Little Angels) and to the ancestors as the “Día de los Muertos” (Day of the Dead). In Europe, this religious holidays may have given birth to the Treat-Or Trick custom, which matured and spread around the globe in slightly different forms since. In the Second Millennium, in Britain, Ireland and possibly Italy, poor people were going from house to house offering to pray for the passed-away loved ones in exchange for food. We can imagine that if the exchange was not satisfactory, the poor people would have a grudge. With the kids gradually taking over the custom, the visited became expected to stock sweet goodies and graciously accept the tricks as a fun punishment for the lack of or underperforming treat.

But we may have delved for too long, too far back in time. From the end of the Second Millennium, the noted “holy days” morphed and gave birth to new customs, costumes, treats and tricks, many of them with a fun ethnic value (check http://www.novareinna.com/festive/world.html).

Halloween tradition had greatly diversified and spread to the countries around the world starting in the 1990s. More recently, the tradition merged with other forms of fun such as masquerade costume parties. In one of our previous blogs we showed the trends in fun with the occasion, and the competition between Masquerade and Halloween parties, as reflected by their characteristic costumes. We also noted that party event organizers made the two apparently different events, at least as origin, a common opportunity to party (see blog on 2014 KCRW Halloween Masquerade)

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Posted in Halloween Costume Ideas.