A Very Happy Yoga Tree Halloween
Happy Halloween, Yogis! As this festive and sometimes misunderstood festival approaches, I thought that it would be the perfect opportunity to talk about the origins of Halloween and why I love it so much.
With its origins in Paganism, Halloween is commonly known to the Celts as Samhain (pronounced ‘Sow-een’). It was considered to be the Celtic New Year, a time of reflection and introspection that served as preparation for the year ahead. Not so surprisingly, it was also a time to reflect on those who has passed on from our world to the next, honouring the sacred transition between life and death.
It was believed that the veil between the land of the living and the dead was very thin, and so it was easier for the spirits of deceased loved ones to pass through and make contact with the living. With this in mind, the tradition of “mumming” on Halloween (begging for treats or money from door to door) became common in several areas of Europe around the 1600’s. The treats were often offered upon a sacred space for the souls of the deceased and were considered to be a way of communication with those existing in the next life.
As with all things, the tradition evolved and expanded. When the tradition made its way to North America in the 1800’s, children began to join in the festivities for a night of ghoulish fun and mischief, giving way to the “trick-or-treating” custom that gained popularity in the 1930’s. Since these days, Halloween has been known as a night of fun with all things fiendish and macabre, putting aside the age old fear of death and joining in on a celebration of life.
I believe that it is incredibly important to observe Halloween, both for its traditional and non-traditional purposes. Taking the time to give thanks and gratitude to those who have left us in this world can allow us to find joy in the lives that we lead, to respect the balance of life and death, and to find peace in the knowledge that those we love never truly leave us.
In addition to this, Halloween really does bring us closer together. Spending time with friends, dressing up, and having some laughs at the “heebie-jeebies” is a magnificent exercise in the importance of together-ness, a concept that is not necessarily synonymous with Halloween, but is still entirely present. We all become very alive in the face of death, challenging the things that scare us the most, and come together with a mutual desire to love who and where we are at every moment. This has always been the true meaning of Halloween for me.
Light a candle to honour your friends and family who have moved on to the next life. Watch a scary movie with friends and have fun together with all the screams and cheers that you experience as a group. Get out of your comfort zone and be someone entirely different for a night, whether it be a starlet from the 40’s silver screen or a flesh eating zombie. Above all things, remember this Halloween that this is a time to be alive! Love the life you’re living, and you will find that the fear of death will transform into a respect for the journey we all on, and for the destination that we all must face.
Contributing author:Lauren Messervey.
Lauren is the social media coordinator for Yoga Tree. An avid Yogi with a love for Tree Pose, she is originally from Atlantic Canada and joined the bustling city of Toronto in June of last year. You may find her in the Midtown region, practicing Yoga or blogging for Yoga Tree. She is currently completing her first novel, set to be released Spring 2014.