Global traditions connection and education: Halloween

Global traditions can be fascinating and educational. Halloween is celebrated in the United States by many individuals and has a global connection. Let’s explore this tradition and the similarities and differences of this festive event.

Global traditions can be fascinating and educational for youth. Halloween is celebrated in the United States by many individuals and has a global connection. What are the similarities and differences of this festive autumn holiday? How did it originate? Why “Trick or Treat?” What’s the origin of the word “Halloween?” There are so many questions to ask and answers to research and learn from.

Halloween goes back to the ancient religion of the Celts, circa 400 B.C., and celebrated the end of summer near the end of October with a festival. In “The History of Halloween: Halloween Customs and Traditions by Barbara Woolman, she explains the history of Halloween as a blending of Celtic, Roman and Christian teachings. For example, the word “Halloween”has its origins in the Catholic Church, coming from a contracted corruption of All Hallows Eve, November 1

Youth, Halloween, Jack-O-Lantern, Global, traditions, pumpkin, history
: Photo of MSU Extension Staff at an NAE4-HA Conference festive event

Let’s explore where trick or treating came from! Originally, Halloween celebrators went door-to-door collecting food as offerings for their gods; the food came from the recently-completed fall harvest celebrations that honored their ancestors. They would dress in frightening costumes to protect themselves while walking home in the dark – this has become a part of what we see today. Children dressed in costumes go door-to-door collecting bags of candy and treats. In the British Isles, the eve of All Saints’ Day became known as “Mischief Night” where people were allowed to go around the village playing pranks without fear of being punished. When Irish and Scottish immigrants came to the United States, they brought these customs with them; hence the origin of the “trick” part of trick or treating.

The Halloween History from the University of Illinois Extension explains that the carving of Jack-O-Lanterns was a ritual from Irish immigrants. It is also educational and interesting to conduct research about the pumpkin and its history. A reliable source to consider is the History Channel.

In Mexico, Latin America and Spain, “All Souls’ Day,” their Halloween equivalent, is designed to honor the dead. When one travels the globe they can discover how other countries are adopting this fall tradition. When visiting a Japanese-based family organization’s Halloween party, you may find them dressed in costumes like children in the United States. Can you name other countries were youth participate in this culturally-blended festive fall event? Take the scare out of Halloween! Explore and become familiar with the origin, traditions and folklore of fall festive events – it can be educational fun for youth and adults. 

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