October 31, tomorrow, is my favorite holiday: Halloween! I wanted to write a long post about Halloween, but my life is a little stressful right now. However, I noticed this today: Ten Tales of Terror, by several excellent authors including Neil Gaiman, who is one of my favorite writers. Each story is very short–only a paragraph or two long. In addition, there is a sound file of each story, read aloud by the author.
Some might be a little hard to understand, such as the next to last one (which is about politics). However, I think you’ll be able to understand and enjoy most of them–at least, if you like scary stories!
Several friends from other countries have asked me this week about the origins of Halloween. It’s a little hard to explain because Halloween is so old that it began before Christianity was common in Europe, and before things were regularly written down. As a result, we don’t really know much about the beginnings of the ancient cultural or religious celebration that is now Halloween. Halloween originated in the British Isles (Ireland, England, etc.), but is probably most popular now in North America. You can read about the history and customs of Halloween at Wikipedia in the Simple English article, the main English article, or in several other languages. Just look on the left side of the main article for explanations in other languages.
In the USA, Halloween is popular with most ages and ethnic groups, although some groups of conservative Christians don’t like it. Every year, they protest Halloween celebrations. However, for most people, it is a fun day to celebrate the imagination. Many adults and families have Halloween parties, where the guests often come in costume. After sunset, children dress up and are taken trick-or-treating in their neighborhood or at a shopping center. Adults may also go to themed events such as Halloween dances at nightclubs, costume contests with big cash prizes, and concerts. You can see a lot of Halloween party photos and other Halloween photos at Flickr (or you can also view more artistic Halloween 2007 photos).
Usually several horror movies are released near Halloween. This year, “30 Days of Night” has been popular. It’s about a group of vampires who go to Alaska. The movie I want to see is the 3-D version of “Nightmare Before Christmas.”
Because I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Halloween season is extended from October 31 through November 2. November 1 and 2 are the Dias de los Muertos, or Day(s) of the Dead. This holiday from Mexico and Latin America has many themes in common with Halloween. In the Bay Area, there are various events such as concerts and neighborhood street festivals. At Mexican bakeries, you can buy special bread and sugar skulls. I recommend going to a Dias de los Muertos event if there is one near you!
If I can find my camera, I’ll post photos from our party tomorrow.