Halloween Celebration at WHA : Embracing Traditions, Old and New
Halloween, that spooky and fun holiday, has quite a history that has transformed over the years. The way we celebrate Halloween today is vastly different from the simpler, quieter traditions of the past. As we gather to celebrate this festive occasion, let’s reflect on the changing face of Halloween and how it has become more elaborate and commercialised in recent times.
Many of us have fond memories of Halloween from a different era, when it was a far cry from the modern, commercialised holiday we experience today. Halloween was once a simpler, more understated affair, with traditions that held a deep significance for communities and families. A recent conversation in the office with Tim Mason, one of our Housing Officers, initiated a delightful discussion about how Halloween traditions have evolved. One fascinating tidbit shared was the use of turnips with candles inside as Jack-o’-Lanterns instead of pumpkins. This simple yet captivating practice highlights the humble beginnings of Halloween.
In the past, Halloween was far less focused on costumes and candy. Children didn’t parade the streets in elaborate outfits, trick-or-treating was not as widespread. Unlike today’s supermarkets, small, sweet shops didn’t profit significantly from the season. Kellie-Ann Moore, our Housing Officer, shared a charming anecdote about her childhood, growing up in a sweet shop. Her parents didn’t allow her to go trick-or-treating, joking that she would be taking sweets from their own customers. Halloween costumes were basic, consisting of a black bin bag as a witch’s cape and plastic green fingers. She also shared that this year her lovely children made a “scream pie” for an unwell neighbour.
In the past, Halloween centred around storytelling, community gatherings, and simple but meaningful activities like carving turnips. People would share ghost stories by the fire, bob for apples, and, most importantly, pay tribute to their ancestors and departed loved ones.
This tradition isn’t limited to one era or region. Our Corporate Services Assistant, Swathi Yogesh, shared a Hindu custom observed during the Halloween season. It involves cooking the favourite foods of their ancestors or loved ones who have passed away and sharing a meal with the family. This practice is a touching way to honour those who came before us and keep their memories alive during this time of year.
Kath Lee, our Independent Living Coordinator, and Roger Lowe, our IT Officer, shared images of carved turnips, allowing a glimpse into Halloween traditions of yore.
Geraldine Kiddle, our Director in Social Value, shared her cherished memories of Halloween celebrations in Ireland. She said, “In Ireland Halloween was a big thing. It is traditional to have an apple pie with a ring cooked into it. It was considered good luck to get the piece with the ring (curtain ring).”
Kirsty Capper, our Director of Resources, shared a picture of her pet dressed up for Halloween.
These discussions about the changing face of Halloween serve as a reminder of the power of nostalgia. Nostalgia can transport us back to a time when Halloween was a simpler, community-focused holiday. It encourages us to contemplate how the holiday has evolved culturally and commercially, all the while helping us appreciate the traditions that have endured.
Halloween is a time to embrace both the past and the present. While it has become more elaborate and commercialised, it’s crucial to remember the fundamental values of community, remembrance, and celebration. Halloween is about more than just costumes and sweets; it’s about connecting with our history and the people we cherish.
This Halloween, whether you’re carving a pumpkin or a turnip, wearing a spooky costume or enjoying a meal with your family, take a moment to ponder the rich traditions that have shaped this holiday. Embrace both the old and the new and remember the significance of honouring loved ones who have passed away. By doing so, you’ll be keeping the Halloween spirit alive, not just for yourself but for future generations too.