October 23, 2016: People of many countries continue to mark the beginning of the winter season with costumes, gatherings, and sweet treats. Somewhere in between the departure of fall and the arrival of winter, Halloween is celebrated which is considered the night of life, death, celebration, and superstition. Though people gather together and rejoice on the October 31, there are many who are still unaware about some of the basic facts about the night.
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Here are some of the unknown facts about Halloween-Night of the dead!
Halloween’s origin is thought to be related to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts lived in the area which is now known as Ireland.
They celebrated their New Year on November 1, which marked the end of summer and beginning of the dark, cold winter which was associated with death.
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They believed that on October 3, the night before the New Year, the walls between the worlds of the living and dead become blurred. And, ghosts return to earth.
The morbid fear of Halloween-Samhainophobia still exists. They are afraid of the night or the festival despite knowing that there is nothing to be afraid about.
Trick-or-treating was meant to pacify the roaming spirits. It came from the ancient Celtic tradition of putting out food to pacify roaming spirits.
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One-quarter of all the candy sold annually in the U.S. is purchased for Halloween.
Orange and Black are the colors of the night. Orange is the considered as the color of strength which also symbolizes the harvest of autumn whereas black symbolizes death or evil. These are the two things Halloween stands for.
It has been stated by NASA that the Juno’s Waves instrument recorded the encounter of it’s Juno spacecraft navigating past the borderline of Jupiter’s magnetic field. The track was recorded on June 24, 2016 with a timespan of about two hours. This spooky space playlist for Halloween is eerie enough to be used as a background score in horror movies!
-Prepared by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram. Twitter @tweet_bhavana
Have you ever seen a witch, dressed in black from head to toe with long glittery nails roaming the streets? Or how about that ghost in tattered clothes and a wooden stick in place of one leg? No, I am not talking about some movie plot, I am talking about all the Halloween things!
Halloween is pretty new to the Indian culture, with the festival garnering interest only in recent years. However, it still is only an attraction only in metro cities wherein you might find people dressed in scary costumes to get into the spirit of Halloween.
Origin of Halloween
The Halloween party culture was never really just that; the origin of Halloween traces its roots in the Festival of Samhain, which was celebrated among the Celts based in ancient Britain and Ireland more than 2000 years ago.
Summers recede by November 1 when in the previous times, the herds from pastures returned and land tenures were renewed. But that was not all that came with the winters. The Celts believed that it was during this time that the dead souls returned to visit their homes and families.
Did you know Halloween is a 2000-year-old festival?
According to tradition, people would visit each other’s houses and beg for ‘soul cakes’ – this is where the tradition of trick or treat came into being. If they were given a ‘soul cake’, they would then pray for the giver’s dead ancestors.
Origin of Halloween has been associated with several superstitions and religious beliefs. Superstitions are a part of common culture, and they grow as traditions and societies grow. Consequently, people began lighting fires and carved faces on turnips and made lanterns out of them to ward off the evil forces that might try to possess them. Furthermore, Celts began the act of guising (the word ‘disguise’ emerged from this); wearing costumes resembling the dead, so that the spirits consider them as one of their own and leave them alone.
In medieval Britain, the culture was to move from door to door asking for food. In return, a prayer was made for the dead. These people would also carry hollowed turnips as a lantern. The candle in the middle was believed to be symbolic of a dead soul trapped in purgatory. Superstitions governed that the candle and its fire was to scare the evil forces away.
It was in North America in the 1800’s when turnips were replaced by pumpkins for the mere reason that they were available in large quantities and were easier to hollow out and carve.
Did you know Halloween was originally the time when dead souls returned to ‘visit’ their homes and families?
The festival gradually entered the American culture in the mid-19th century when an increasing number of European immigrants began settling in the USA. These immigrants that also comprised of people from Ireland brought their local traditions and Halloween costumes that were then adopted by the American population as new customs.
It was by the middle of the 20th century that Halloween became a widely celebrated holiday.
Pumping carving is one of the most common and famous Halloween traditions. The pumpkins with the demonic face carved on it are what is called the ‘Jack-o-lanterns’.
Legend has it that a man named Stingy Jack repeatedly trapped the Devil and allowed to let him go on the condition that Jack would never go to Hell. Upon his death, Jack found that Heaven did not want his soul due to his devilish dealings, upon which he was left on the Earth as a ghost for eternity.
It was then that the Devil gifted Jack a lump of burning coal to light his way, which Jack carried everywhere inside a hollowed out turnip.
Consequently, locals began hollowing out and carving demonic faces on turnips, and consequently pumpkins to guard themselves against evil spirits like Jack of the Lantern.
The Ghost Costumes
Another Halloween traditions that make the festival so unique are the ghostly costumes. Since the dead souls were believed to roam on the Earth during Samhain, the Celts began the act of disguise. They began to dress themselves up in similar ghoulish attire to be mistaken for the spirits themselves and be left alone.
Trick or Treat
There are multiple arguments that trace the rationale behind the popular ‘trick or treat’ Halloween traditions. A popular belief is that the practice stems from the act of guising, also understood as selling. In the middle ages, Celt’s children would go from door to door asking for food and uttered a prayer in return. Eventually, the prayer was replaced by other less-religious activities like a song, joke, poem, etc.
According to some believers, the modern day ‘trick or treat’ tradition traces its roots in belsnickling, a tradition followed in German-American communities where the children would disguise themselves in different attires and have the adults in the neighborhood guess their identities. The children were then rewarded with gifts or food if nobody could identify them.
Cats are unpredictable and have a royal appeal. Their mystical vibe makes them all the more attractive. Black cats are known to have a spooky connotation since the middle ages when they were considered as a symbol and ally of the Devil. Centuries later, alleged witches were often found to house cats, especially the black ones as companions.
This prompted people to think of them as allies, who then believed that cats assist witches in their ‘black magic’ and possessed some mysticism themselves. The two have been linked ever since.
Things To Do On Halloween
Are you an adult to is too old for a trick and treating and wondering what to do on Halloween? Or are you new to the Halloween stuff?
Did you know initially, turnips were hollowed out and used in place of pumpkins?
We have a fun and easy to execute list of things to do on Halloween,
Are you a horror movie geek? Or do you belong to the category who watches horror movies with the lights on? Either way, with or without company, a horror movie marathon will seem like a good idea to spend Halloween. It is going to be all the more fun when you know there are spirits (and people dressed up as spirits) roaming outside.
There is nothing ghostly in this, but there are going to be twists and turns and alleged blood. For those of you who are not into ghost stories, playing a crime-related game would be a good idea! More recently, gaming spaces like the ‘mystery rooms’ have come up in different cities wherein you are locked inside a room with your forced and have to solve a murder mystery to escape. Sounds exciting? Then you must give it a try
Bake A Dessert
Because who doesn’t like desserts? You can always experiment with the designs and the ingredients. How about some blueberry cookies in the shape of a happy face with chocolate oozing out of hollows that look like eyes and strawberry syrup for the mouth?
Or how about some candy cake with a multitude of flavors and colors?
The festival is indeed meant for ghosts and spirits but who can say no to some sweet tooth cravings? How about some sugar coma?
Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups
Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops
In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS
June 25, 2017: The Islamic State group is rapidly expanding in parts of Afghanistan, advancing militarily into areas where it once had a weak presence and strengthening its forces in core regions, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.
Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups.
Attacking IS has become such a priority in the country, that disparate forces sometimes join together in the ad-hoc fight, with Afghan and U.S. forces finding themselves inadvertently supporting the enemy Taliban in battling IS.
Confusion leads to mistakes
All too often, officials say, mistakes are made due to confusion on the ground.
Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops, provincial police chief, Rahmatullah Turkistani told VOA. The supplies were meant to help Afghan forces that are countering twin attacks by IS and Taliban militants but were used instead by IS.
“It’s not getting better in Afghanistan in terms of IS,” U.S. Chief Pentagon Spokeswoman Dana White told VOA this week. “We have a problem, and we have to defeat them and we have to be focused on that problem.”
Reinforcements for the IS cause reportedly are streaming into isolated areas of the country from far and wide. There are reports of fighters from varied nationalities joining the ranks, including militants from Pakistan, India, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia and Central Asian neighbors.
Still, the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISK) as IS is known in Afghanistan remains a fragmented group composed of differing regional forces with different agendas in different parts of the country.
“IS-K is still conducting low-level recruiting and distribution of propaganda in various provinces across Afghanistan, but it does not have the ability or authority to conduct multiple operations across the country,” a recent Pentagon report said. But where it operates, IS is inflicting chaos and casualties and causing confusing scenarios for disparate opponents.
In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS. IS regained ground after a few days, leading to U.S. military air attacks on IS positions in conjunction with Afghan intelligence instructions and army operations.
IS fighters reportedly have fled from mountain caves of Tora Bora, where al-Qaida’s leader Osama bin Laden hid from U.S. attack in 2001.
IS fighters were also reportedly advancing in neighboring Khogyani district, displacing hundreds of families, according to district officials. It is one of several areas in Nangarhar province, near the Pakistani border, where IS has been active for over two years.
Fierce clashes in the Chaparhar district of Nangarhar last month left 21 Taliban fighters and seven IS militants dead, according to a provincial spokesman. At least three civilians who were caught in the crossfire were killed and five others wounded.
“IS has overpowered Taliban in some parts of Nangarhar because the Taliban dispatched its elite commando force called Sara Qeta (Red Brigade) to other parts of the country, including some northern provinces to contain the growing influence of IS there,” Wahid Muzhda, a Taliban expert in Kabul, told VOA.
IS has also expanded in neighboring Kunar province, where, according to provincial police chief, it has a presence in at least eight districts and runs a training base, where foreign members of IS, train new recruits.
Hundreds of miles from Nangarhar, IS is attempting to establish a persistent presence in several northern provinces where it has found a fertile ground for attracting militants and recruiting unemployed youths, mostly between the age of 13 and 20.
IS has been able to draw its members from the Pakistani Taliban fighters, former Afghan Taliban, and other militants who “believe that associating with or pledging allegiance” to IS will further their interests, according to the Pentagon report.
Hundreds of militants have joined IS ranks in northern Jouzjan and Sar-e-Pul province where local militant commanders lead IS-affiliate groups in several districts.
Qari Hekmat, an ethnic Uzbek and former Taliban militant who joined IS a year ago, claims to have up to 500 members, including around 50 Uzbek nationals who are affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) — previously associated with al-Qaida and Taliban in Afghanistan.
IS and Taliban are reportedly fighting over the control of Darzab district in Jouzjan which they stormed this week from two different directions and besieged scores of government forces. The Taliban has reportedly captured the center of the district while IS militants control the city outskirts.
Afghanistan faces a continuing threat from as many as 20 insurgent and terrorist networks present or operating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, including IS, the Pentagon said.
“In areas where the government has limited influence and control, IS attempts to emerge and expand there,” Ateequllah Amarkhail, an analysts and former Army general in Kabul told VOA.
IS has also claimed responsibility for several recent attacks in urban areas, however, with a hit-and-hide strategy that is proving effective. And it is engaging too in more skirmishes with U.S. forces that initially were sent to the country to help Afghan forces halt the spread of Taliban.
Three American service members based in eastern Afghanistan were killed in April during operations targeting IS militants, according to the Pentagon.
“ISIS-K remains a threat to Afghan and regional security, a threat to U.S. and coalition forces, and it retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks in urban centers,” the Pentagon said. (VOA)