Today, Halloween is the time when people go trick-or-treating and hold costume parties. But do we really know anything about this holiday, which is largely associated with candy-eating children, carved pumpkins and nutty dressed youths? Let’s talk a little bit about the origins of this interesting holiday.
The word Halloween has Christian origins and means “All Hallow’s Evening”. Though some say that it developed independently, there is proof that today’s Halloween is directly related to Celtic festival of Samhain, which was held on October 31st and celebrated the end of the harvest season (summer) and the beginning of winter. During this time, the Celts slaughtered livestock, lit bonfires, and performed divination rituals. They believed that during Samhain souls of the dead came to our world to visit their loved ones and, of course, those they wanted to avenge. For good spirits, tables were set and people were invited for entertainment. However, to scare off dark spirits, the Celts dressed in costumes and carved out lanterns to be placed on their windows – traditions that we continue to this day. To collect food for the festival, the younger population went from door to door asking for food and firewood; hence, the modern tradition of trick-or-treating.
In Christianity, All Hallow’s Eve, or All Saints’ Day, was originally celebrated in May and was switched to coincide with Samhain in the 9th century. As with many Christian holidays, this was done to diminish the importance of the pagan holiday of Samhain.
But let’s not get too deeply into the politics of religion and talk about the modern holiday of Halloween and how you can stand out from the rest this year. As pointed out earlier, today we associate Halloween with costume parties, candy, food and entertainment. Though it is already a fun way to spend the last day of October, we have some suggestions on how to give a ‘kick’ to your Halloween celebration and bring some international flavor to it. Think Russian!
The Russian population of the United States has come to wait for and love Halloween. Many authentic restaurants decorate their interior with customary Russian ornaments, hire DJ’s to play Russian music, and, of course, serve traditional Russian food and beverages during this holiday. Those who don’t want to go out and spend their evening in a crowd, invite friends and family for a nice holiday dinner. What’s the suggestion, you may ask. Well, why not experiment this year?
You as well can try out the Russian way of celebrating Halloween. If you are in the mood for a grand party, check out your local area for restaurants and clubs that will cater to the Russian population of your city – you can always join, learn a lot of new and interesting things and make some friends. You can dress up as the most famous Soviet cartoon character Cheburashka or the Russian Matryoshka doll and go trick-or-treating with your kids – both costumes are guaranteed to be a hit. And if you simply want to have some guests over, surprise them with a traditional Russian dinner using our wide variety of authentic Russian foods and beverages.
Stay tuned next week and we will share the secrets and recipes of some great Russian traditional dishes you can prepare for Halloween.