Yeah, you! Did you know that the heaviest pumpkin’s world record is 2096 lbs. (= 950 kg)? That’s really creepy, but it makes for a giant Halloween monster and for a giant soup! The emblematic symbol of the monster-shaped pumpkin comes from Jack O’ Lantern’s legend: Jack was not able to enter Heaven and not even Hell because he tricked the Devil, so he roamed around using a lantern made from a … turnip. However, pumpkins are obviously easier to cut than turnips, so now they sort of became part and parcel of the Halloween party!
The Celts are at the origin of the celebration of “All Hollows’ Eve”, or Halloween for short. Apparently, it started as a special occasion for Druids to welcom autumn, which also marked the beginning of the year according to the Celtic calendar. This event was called Samhain, meaning “end of summer” and the dead’s souls were supposed to come back around this time, so they offered them some food. Then the belief that spirits came on Earth on that very day to haunt them and try to get a new Human appearance spread out. To prevent being cursed, people disguised themselves in order to appear non-human. Another way of protecting themselves was to put some gifts outside the houses to calm down the evil spirits…
This tradition was then spread throughout Europe, in general, and to the United States, and we still celebrate it today! Crazy, isn't it? However, nowadays, it is just an opportunity to party and have fun. People usually dress up (often more in sexy than spooky ways), put some make up on, decorate their houses, buy some sweets, watch horror movies and generally have an awesome time! The popularity of this celebration is not the same everywhere, though. In France for instance, Halloween was introduced in the 1990s, and only the young are likely to do something on this day. Some children go from door to door in the neighbourhood, and clubs have a special night. I guess a lot of French people think it is a way too commercial holiday to be properly celebrated! In the United Kingdom things are a lot different: a lot of houses get pumpkins on the windows’ ledges, fake spider webs and there are a lot of people wandering around the streets, wearing their favourite Halloween constumes that they have been thinking of for ages! But then again, this is probably because, originally, All Hollows' Eve celebrations were located in Celtic areas.
Now, in order to end on a funnier note, I do hope you enjoyed spending Halloween in Southampton and will perpetuate this traditional party back to your own country, whichever that may be! After all, Halloween is just another fun occasion for friends to get together and enjoy a good night out!
Written by Océane Ginot
Océane Ginot comes from France, where she studies Modern Languages. She dreams of becoming an English teacher. She loves travelling and discovering new cultures. For her, Erasmus will be (and is already) a great experience.