Throughout the year, many holidays and traditions are celebrated throughout the Maltese islands but one cannot deny that Halloween is now among the most looked forward to. The day many people of all ages across the world dress up as their favourite – usually horror – characters and participate in a number of different traditions from trick-or-treating to carving pumpkins. For 20-something year olds this holiday is eagerly awaited to attend themed parties dressed as adult versions of the above-mentioned characters, which happen over the weekend.
Halloween, a counterpart to All Hallows’ Evening, is a celebration observed on the 31st October — the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Saint’s Day, dedicated to remembering the faithfully departed. As All Saints Day also became known as All-Hallows Day, became All-Hallows Eve, eventually taking the name we know today, Halloween. Legend has it that Halloween, and its traditions, originated from ancient Celtic harvest festivals, particularly the Gaelic festival Samhain, whose people believed that ghosts returned to haunt the world. The Celts would build huge bonfires, wear costumes and try to predict their future. It is widely thought that the Church wanted to replace the Celtic feast with a more Christian-appropriate celebration. The celebration of All Souls’ Day itself is in fact very similar to Samhain, with bonfires, parades and costumes marking the day. Such festivals are also said to have had pagan roots, though many insist that it began as a Christian holiday and is in no way linked to festivals like Samhain.
Throughout the Central and South regions of the Americas, ‘Dia de Muertos’ which translates into ‘the Day of the Dead’ is usually celebrated from October 31st till November 2nd, and has also been linked to Halloween. Family members would build private altars in order to be able to honour their dead relatives and show support on their spiritual journey, by offering their favourite meals and beverages, and leaving their previously owned possessions at the graves.
Halloween is widely celebrated in the USA, due to the large number of Irish people that immigrated during the 19th Century. The holiday gained popularity and the tradition of wearing costumes and trick-or-treating quickly spread across the States. It was during the early 20th Century that religious and superstitious implications were let go, and it turned into a family oriented celebration.Here in Malta, the idea of trick-or-treating has become more popular in recent years. It was only some 15 years ago that parents would discourage their children from going out and taking part in said festivities, and the infamous city of Swieqi dreaded the day. Why? Because there is also an unsavoury side to trick-or-treating which was to egg houses on the night.
Today, however, many residents look forward to handing out sweets to children and also decorate the outside of their houses with jack-o-lanterns and flying witches in order to welcome the herds of little children going door to door. For the older crowd, Paceville is more than ready to provide an area for everyone to celebrate, with some clubs even offering Halloween themed cocktails.