The word ‘Halloween’ means ‘hallowed evening’ or ‘holy evening.’ It is believed to be of Scottish Christian origin, dating back to mid Eighteenth Century. Halloween falls on 31 October, the evening prior to the Christian All Saints Day on 01 November.
Halloween came to North America with the influx of Scottish and Irish settlers by early Nineteenth Century. It was gradually assimilated into mainstream society and by the first decade of the Twentieth Century it was being celebrated all over North America by people of all social, racial and religious backgrounds.
Trick-or-treating is a customary celebration for children on Halloween. Children go out in costume from house to house, asking for treats such as candy or sometimes money, with the question, “Trick or Treat?” The word ‘Trick’” refers to ‘threat’ to perform mischief on the homeowners or their property if no ‘treat’ is given.
Chief Medical Officer of Health of Ontario Province recommended against trick or treating door-to-door this Halloween for Toronto, Ottawa and also our city of Mississauga. Prime Minister Trudeau has declared that his three children will not venture out this Halloween for ‘Trick or Treat.‘
Most homes put up Halloween decorations as what one sees in the ‘Dracula’ movies with cobwebs, skeletons and various scary models. The most common is the ‘Jack-O-Lanterns’ which originated in Ireland where children carved out potatoes or turnips and lighted them from the inside with candles. In North America, pumpkins were cheaper and more readily available than turnips, thus carving them and making them in to Jack-O-Lanterns lit by a candle inside became a North American Halloween tradition.
Whether Halloween is a devil’s holiday or not, the children really have a lot of fun and enjoy the evening going for ‘Trick or Treat’; the adults enjoy accompanying the children and also treating them at their homes. People of all ages do have a lot of fun ‘dressing up’ in the most grotesque way and they do not ever associate the devil with what they do.
31 October night happens to be a ‘Full-Moon Night’ and also a ‘Blue-Moon.‘ The idiom ‘once in a blue-moon‘ refers to a rare occurrence, but in fact it appears once every 2.7 years, because the lunar month – from new moon to new moon- is 29.53 days compared to 30 or 31 days of our calendar month. Hence February (with 28 or 29 days) can never witness a blue-moon. Last blue-moon occurred on March 31, 2018.
Now comes the Daylight Saving Time (DST) when we turn our clock by an hour on the first Sunday of November. This year, the day falls on 01 November. It reduces one hour to standard time with the purpose of making better use of daylight and conserving energy. Even though the Sun will rise and set as before, the clocks will show the time one hour earlier than the day before. The first to use DST was Thunder Bay in Ontario, Canada In July, 1908. Other cities and provinces followed suit by introducing DST bylaws.
DST is now in force in over 70 countries worldwide and affects over a billion people every year. The beginning and end dates vary from one country to another. In 1996, the European Union (EU) standardized an EU-wide DST schedule, beginning last Sunday in March and ending last Sunday in October. It is believed that DST showed a decrease in road accidents by ensuring that the roads are naturally lit during the peak traffic hours.
(Images from Halloween 2019)