When we think of Halloween, we think of costumes, candy, decorations and magic! But the tradition has its root in a celebration marking the time after harvest, when nothing grows, it’s dark and cold outside. It also marks halfway between autumn equinox and winter solstice. It is believed that during this time the veil between realms is thinnest and spirits are able to cross between realms more easily and some even say that paranormal activities are heightened during this time.
The belief that the spirits of the dead can visit the world of the living exists throughout the world and many countries have their own tradition when it comes to honouring or celebrating the dead. Some sort of food offering or light (to either represent the sunlight in the darkness or the light to guide the way for the dead) is usually involved in these celebrations.
In Thailand, especially in the south, where I come from, the celebration is based on the belief that the hungry ghosts are released to visit relatives during the 1-15th of the 10th lunar month, which usually falls in September and the festival usually takes place on the last day of that period of time. These hungry ghosts can then receive merit and food from their descendants so food is often prepared and taken to temples but the food is not left to rot and waste, after rituals and praying, people can then feast.
So the concept of the dead roaming our world is quite common and the understanding of realms and the veil between realms have existed in, practically, every culture. Sensitive people might be able to feel when the veil is thin and there can be paranormal activities happening during other times of the year, too. In fact, there are some hours at night that the veil feels a lot thinner than during the daytime. However, in autumn, when even nature turns inward and rests, we do feel that there is a lot more going on than what we can see and this might contribute to the magical feeling around Halloween.
Do you celebrate Halloween or any other festivals honouring the dead and how do you celebrate?
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