It’s spooky season at The International Center…
Halloween today is all about candy, costumes, scary movies, and pranks. But did you know the history behind Halloween?
A Brief History of Halloween
Samhain is an ancient Celtic spiritual tradition. On the night of October 31st , it is believed that the barrier between our realm and the spirit world dissolves. You may have heard a similar story surrounding the widely celebrated Day of the Dead, All Saints’ Day, and even the Italian Ognissanti. Feralia was a Roman ceremony of offering food to the dead at their graves and celebrating the funeral feast.
These traditions and many more evolved over hundreds of years to create the Halloween we know and love today.
What other holidays can you look forward to in September, October, and November?
Bonfire Night, also known as Fireworks or Guy Fawkes Night, takes place on November 5th in the United Kingdom.
400 years ago, Guy Fawkes and his friends planned to target King James by hiding barrels of gunpowder under the House of Parliament. However, the barrels were found before they could be detonated, and Fawkes and his accomplices were killed. To celebrate, King James named the day a holiday. Today, citizens celebrate by holding bonfires, burning effigies of Guy Fawkes, watching fireworks, and eating baked potatoes with butter and cheese.
In 2023, Chuseok was celebrated from September 18th to the 20th with the main event on the 19th. A harvest festival, this holiday is considered the “Korean Thanksgiving.” Traditional dishes are served such as sungyeon, rice dough stuffed with sesame seeds, chestnuts, and red beans. Gift-giving is popular for Chuseok. Food is a customary gift with spam being one of the most popular.
Diwali – The Indian Festival of Lights
This year, Diwali falls on the 12th of November according to the solar calendar. This is one of many holidays set on the lunisolar calendar.
On the night of Kartik’s new moon, rows upon rows of lanterns are placed in the streets. Fireworks are set off to represent light overpowering darkness. Families decorate their houses with rangoli and exchange gifts.
One of our staff members, Neelam Patel, shares a fond memory of her family’s celebration of Diwali:
“For me, Diwali has always been a time to spend with family, reflect on the year passed and the year ahead, and celebrate all the things that bring light, love, and joy into my life. I love seeing all the ways people from different cultures and faiths celebrate around the world!”
Today, Oktoberfest is a beer-centered festival running for two weeks, starting in September and ending in October. The festival began in Munich, Germany with a celebration of the crowning of the Prince of Bavaria in 1810. Over the years, more and more festivities were added. Horse races, then an agricultural fair, then food and drink were added as the years went on. The booths shifted to beer-focused. Today, the festival’s focus is the beer, with 2 million gallons consumed each year just for Oktoberfest.
Or Bon Om Touk
This Cambodian Water Festival celebrates the start of the rainy season. The exact date varies but generally falls in October or November. A three-day extravaganza lifts up the entire country. Phom Penh, the capitol of Cambodia holds a two-day festival with parades, food, boat racing, a moon salutation, and candle-covered boat floating in the water at sunset.
What holidays do you celebrate this time of year?
By: Amelie Zirnheld | Marketing & Communications Intern