Specialising in Special Occasions means that Cardies have become the definitive experts on the interesting and historical facts that surround each of the holidays we love to celebrate. One such holiday that has become particularly fun to participate in is Halloween. Although in modern times Halloween has traditionally been celebrated in America, the 31st of October still proves to be a day that South African children and adults alike can engage in the same enjoyable activities with the an equal amount of wicked enthusiasm.
“The history behind many festivals and holidays is often inspired by traditions that have been instilled from one generation to another. Like the broken telephone concept, much of the originality of these traditions are distorted over the years; as is the case with Halloween.” says Cardies Product Manager, John Boden. “The holiday came to be as a result of several different cultural traditions and heritages been thrown together and ultimately celebrated in the unusual fashion of dressing up in frightening outfits; knocking on strangers doors howling “trick or treat”; decorating houses with hollowed out pumpkins (jack-o-lanterns) and bobbing for apples.”
The word “Halloween” actually has its roots in the Catholic Church. It comes from the phrase All Hallows Eve, a day that was set aside on 1st November to observe the Saints. Arguably this was done to correspond to the Celtic tradition of “Samhain” (pronounced sow-en), celebrated on 31st October to mark the end of Summer. One story claims that on Samhain, dissatisfied spirits on a quest for a peaceful afterlife, came back to earth in search of their living bodies. Naturally the living did not want to be possessed and therefore disguised themselves in ghoulish dress in order to frighten the spirits away – hence the modern tradition of dressing in devilish costumes. Cardies offers shoppers an array of disguises to suit all personalities, with varying degrees of scariness.
Other theories report that the Celtic beliefs were adopted into some of the Roman traditions of honouring Pomona, Goddess of fruit and trees whose symbol was that of the apple. This might explain the Halloween game of bobbing for apples. Gimmicks bought from Cardies will ensure bobbing for apples games have added value, allowing players the chance to bob for special extras and not just fruit.
The Halloween custom of trick-or-treating is thought to have originated from a custom called Souling, which was practiced by early Christian Europeans in the 9th century. On the 2nd November people would walk from village to village asking for soul cakes (small bits of bread, usually containing currants). On receipt of each, the “beggar” would promise to pray for a safe passage to Heaven for the donor’s deceased relatives or acquaintances.
Finally, the tradition of the jack-o-lantern stems from the Irish folklore about a man named Jack who was a well-known Irish trickster and drunkard who managed to trick Satan into climbing up a tree and trapping him there by carving a cross on the tree’s trunk. According to the legend, Jack was denied access to Heaven (for his evil ways) and banned form hell too for tricking the devil. As consolation, Jack was given an ember of fire to light his way through eternal darkness. This was placed in a hollowed out turnip to keep it alight and protect it from the wind. When the Irish immigrants came to America during the potato famine, many of these traditions came with them. In America however, turnips were hard to come by and jack-o-lanterns were therefore made from the more available pumpkins. Cardies stocks several variations of the Jack-o-Lanterns, making it easier for shoppers than the tiresome task of carving out vegetables.
Halloween therefore did not result from evil or satanic practices but rather grew out of a collection of Celtic traditions, medieval prayers and a few legends and stories. Today Halloween is acknowledged as a day for naughtiness and is the perfect excuse to have a fabulous themed party. This is how most South Africans tend to celebrate the 31st October. If you have anything planned this year and need to get as much Halloween inspiration as possible, make sure you visit one of Cardies stores nationwide.
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