Mẹ’s Way Talks About Halloween
(Below pictures are licensed and provided by Shutterstock)
Written by Brynn Mitchell and Chau Tonnu
Edited and illustrated by Chau Tonnu
It is that special time of year when the leaves change color, and the weather turns cold. Fall is such a magical time when we transition from the bright business of summer to the peace of winter. The changing of the seasons also means that we are heading into the holidays!
Fall is the time for fuzzy socks, comfort food, pumpkin spice, and some of the best holidays of the year.
Starting with Halloween, people across the world are launched into a season of celebration and festivities. Halloween’s fascinating history and diverse celebrations make it an excellent milestone to kick off the holiday season.
Modern Halloween began with Samhain, a pagan Celtic festival that reaches back thousands of years. Today, the festival is celebrated with bonfires, games, and traditional foods. An Irish fruitcake called barmbrack is made and filled with prizes that help fortune tellers determine the future of the eater.
Variations of Halloween are celebrated around the world as well. In other countries, the day marks a time to help guide spirits into the afterlife or visit with family members and ancestors who have died. Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Death) is one such holiday celebrated in Mexico. People honor their ancestors with decorated ofrendas where they place gifts, food, and flowers for the dead. They often eat Pan de Muerto (Mexican bread) and drink hot chocolate on that day.
In Great Britain, Guy Fawkes Day marks a Halloween-like holiday where people remember the man who planned an attempt to destroy the parliament building. People celebrate the day with bonfires and fireworks. Other European holidays resemble Halloween as well. All Saints Day, called many different things in different countries, mark festivals for the dead all over Europe. Celebrations include food left for the dead, visiting cemeteries, and attending Catholic mass.
In Asia, many of the holidays to remember the dead happen in different time of the year. In Vietnam, people honor the dead in many different months. The first one is conducted on the third day of the third month in Lunar Calendar. It is when people celebrate the traditional festival of Thanh Minh which is also called Cold Food Festival (Tet Han Thuc) as people often eat cold dishes such as Banh Troi and Banh Chay. They clean the graves of their ancestors and the surrounding areas, pray, offer of incense, food, and flowers, and eat cold foods.
The second one is conducted on the fifteenth day of the seventh month in Lunar Calendar. The festival is known as the Hungry Ghost Festival (Tet Trung Nguyen). It is a celebration to ward off or appease the evil spirits and to pay respects to deceased family members. The belief that during this time of year, spirits get restless and begin wandering the world inspires the people to feed the spirits food and money that they need to sustain them in the afterlife. This tradition was originated from the Chinese of Buddhist and Taoist influences.
The third one is conducted on the last day of the old Lunar year when all family members visit their ancestor’s graves, clean the altar, and prepare a banquet at the midnight to invite their ancestors to return home, unite and welcome the New Year with the whole family.
The fourth one is conducted on the same Lunar date when each ancestor passed away. This worshipping happens every year called “Đám Giỗ”. The worshipping is more specific for each ancestor since each one passed away on different dates; however, the worshippers also pray and invite their other ancestors to return home for celebration as well.
As far as modern Halloween goes, the Kawasaki Halloween Parade in Japan is the country’s largest parade of its kind and celebrates Halloween with costumes, music, and floats.
In the US, we celebrate with food. Traditionally, kids dress up in costumes and go door to door asking “Trick or Treat,” and are given candies/goodies at every house. Adults join in on the festivities too with costumes and parties to celebrate the day. The weeks around Halloween have become a spooky season where we seek out scary movies, haunted houses, and curiosities. One fun way to celebrate is by styling your table with creative themed snacks. We suggest clever creations like mummy pigs in a blanket, monster burgers, or mice meatballs. All will taste even more delicious with spicy, tangy Me’s Way chili sauce!