Halloween for foreigners

By Sergio González | 15:05
Jack-o'-lantern pumpkin

Jack-o'-lantern is always watching you

Rihanna’s I hate that I love you could have easily been inspired by world’s opinion towards USA. Anywhere in the world, you can find people who objects about America but does it in jeans while holding a coke in their hand.

We all tend to keep an eye on whatever Americans are doing but if we are to copy something, let’s allow parties and festivals to travel borders freely. German Oktoberfest has already reached many nations and the word has become current in many languages to describe a beer-weekend in the middle of October. Shall Swedish Summer Welcoming festival be next to conquer our partying mood?

Halloween has been timidly sweeping offshore coasts for several years and despite all the criticism -it’s completely opposite to Catholics’ celebration- it is here to stay. Scarce and rare at first, today it’s common to see children asking for treats in Germany, Spain or Japan.

Halloween origins are intimately linked to All Hallows’ Eve -even the word Halloween derives from its Scottish medieval pronunciation- but instead of being a day honored to saints and martyrs who don’t have another day, Halloween drinks from Celtic culture, so it’s full of magic, legends and moonlight rituals.

The Celts used to celebrate Winter’s arrival with Samhainend of summer– celebration, linked, as most pagan festivities, to the harvest. During Samhain, they would gather around to store and count the supplies available for next cold season, marking the beginning of Celt new year.

Winter in Scotland is terribly hard and already heavy dark at 3 pm, so the Celts came to understand that during this obscure day, the lines between the world of the alive and the death weaken enough to allow spirits, witches and demons into our world.

And what about those scary pumpkins with an inside light? There are many versions about Jack-o’-lantern, it’s a popular tale after all; here comes one.

Jack was a thief who one fine day was running away from some fleeced and angry villagers. On his way out, he ran into the Devil, who was there because it was Jack’s time to meet hell. Jack managed to convince the Devil with a better idea of his own. The Devil will turn into a coin which Jack would use to pay the villagers. Once done, the Devil would disappear and the villagers will fight each other.

The Devil accepted and jumped into Jack’s pocket just to find himself next a cross, also stolen. Disabled, the Devil had to agree with Jack to never take away his soul in exchange of his freedom.

Sinful Jack’s soul died and obviously he was denied Heaven but, as the Devil kept his promise, he could do anything but wander the unknown. Whoever plays with the Devil is eventually fooled by him, and when Jack asked for some light to see the world, Satan threw him an ember Jack put into a turnip or an apple or a pumpkin, depending on who tells the story. These three are compulsory ingredients in most traditional Halloween menus.

During this night, not only the spirits of the deceased will return but also Jack-o’-lantern, seeking for revenge. He will ask you a simple question, trick or treat? Popular wisdom advises to accept the treat whatever it is because otherwise your house will be haunted, your family coursed and the live stock will die by plague.

Even if you believe you’re beyond this, please be careful on Halloween night and carve some pumpkins to prevent a disaster. Jack-o’-lantern may seem an old penitent spirit from many centuries ago but he comes back every year, stronger. Nowadays, he tries to fool us in the shape of young and innocent children. Don’t panic, you could recognize him the very moment they ask you trick or treat? Take the treat, you’ve been warned.

La Recoleta cemetery in Buenos Aires

La Recoleta cemetery in Buenos Aires, dare to enter in Halloween?

For those grown-ups who enjoy Halloween’s craziest and most glamorous side, there are thousands of parties outside USA ready to scare the fun out of you this 2012 October 31st.

Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, has developed in the later years interesting chic areas for clubbing and dancing all night long in proper scary or spicy customs; that’s the way Celts attracted good spirits. If you also want good vibes that night, the Celt tradition advises to spill some booze on the ground to quench your ancestors and join them into the party.

Lisbon nights offer a scary enough background for Halloween, plenty of dark narrow streets partly lighted only by weak gas-like lamps. But don’t be too afraid, it will be all in your head.

The cemetery of La Recoleta in Buenos Aires is a common destination for all sorts of urban tribes that are into death, vampires or Gothic stuff because it’s a true piece of art full of marble statues and ornate vaults. During Halloween, there are many parties going on in Buenos Aires and the boldest celebrate all sorts of rituals in La Recoleta. Visit is allowed, but not at night, so let the dead rest in peace or face the consequences, whether earthly or sourced in the underworld.

If you fear nothing and want to challenge your buddies or your partner, Halloween in famous Transylvania region is the perfect setting to make your hair stand on end with deep dark forests, cold mist, ghostly castles and haunted houses assured. Hurry up if you want your walk on the dark side because Transylvanians are getting tired of the Count extreme popularity.

Photo Credit : total13

Photo Credit: h_elise

 

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