It is Halloween in a couple of weeks, and as the spooky holiday approaches, everybody is getting busy preparing for it. Some people have started decorating their homes, others are already practicing their pumpkin-carving skills, and some are on their way to victory in the official popcorn consumption competition while watching every scary movie there is. But there is no doubt that the most anticipated part of celebrating Halloween is the opportunity to become whoever or whatever you want for the night. This experience brings joy and excitement to the hearts of countless kids and adults in the US, and in recent years the mysterious magic of Halloween has spread in many other countries around the world. The main reason for this is people's long-standing and historically proven fascination with all types of masquerade-related festivities. Many cultures have used carnivals for centuries as a way to celebrate different occasions. This is why The Holiday Blog has decided to prepare a little tour around the world for you. On this adventure, you can learn about the history and traditions of some of the most exciting holidays and festivals that require you to put a little something special (or scary) on. Grab yourself a pumpkin spiced latte, and let's dive right into it.
Carnevale di Venezia, Italy
Venice is a magical city at any time of year, but especially so during the annual Carnival celebration-Carnevale di Venezia. The festival is observed two weeks before the start of Catholic Lent and signifies the end of winter and the arrival of spring. The Venetian Carnival is one of Europe's oldest and is celebrated throughout the whole Veneto region of Italy, with carnival processions taking place also in Padua and Verona. The first organized event is believed to have occurred in 1094, and a bit more than 200 years later, in 1296, it was declared an official holiday—the masks associated with this event date all the way back to the 13th century. Prior to Napoleon's conquest of the then-Republic of Veneto in 1797, the Carnival was always preceded by a traditional Venetian ball, followed by numerous celebrations, street performances, and gambling throughout the city. The festivities lasted weeks and sometimes even months. As a result, Venice became known as a city devoted to entertainment, and it naturally evolved into a haven for temptations and life's pleasures. Historically, all carnival participants, regardless of their social class, were required to disguise themselves. This enabled individuals to maintain their anonymity, thereby bridging the class divide. Today, Venice's Carnival is well-known throughout the world and attracts over 3 million tourists each year. Numerous performances, processions, and concerts are planned throughout the city, with the most popular event being "Angel's Flight" - a tradition in which an acrobat dressed as an angel ascends and descends from the top of the "San Marco" bell tower.
The custom of Kukeri, Bulgaria
The custom "Kukeri" in the Bulgarian lands dates back to the time of the Thracian tribes when it was observed during the days dedicated to the Thracian god of merriment Dionysus. Nowadays, this tradition is used to celebrate the beginning of spring and the passing of the cold winter. For this purpose, the Kukeri disguise themselves with scary masks and unique costumes and fill the atmosphere in villages and towns with dances to the sounds of hundreds of cowbells while singing and wishing well-being. The making of the Kuker mask is a type of art that has been practiced for centuries and evolved during the process. Most of them have a wooden structure decorated with multicolored threads, pieces of fabric, animal skins, mirrors, and many other elements. According to Bulgarian folklore, they are used to scare away evil spirits, and for this purpose, the masks must be as ugly and frightening as possible. Some of them are designed with two faces- on one side, the face has a cute button nose and is smiling, but on the other side, the nose is large and hunched, and the expression looks rather sinister. The duality of these masks is used as a metaphor for the good and evil forces that coexist in the world. It is believed that the sound of the cowbells hanging from the Kukers' belts improves the masks' defensive powers, and the more noise they make while dancing, the more certain it is that this will drive away evil forces and spirits. Women are traditionally excluded from participating, thus men in various costumes portray even feminine roles. However, in recent years this practice has changed and young women can often be spotted taking part in the Kukeri festivals.
Día de Los Muertos, Mexico
Every year, from October 31 to November 2, people from all over Mexico leave their homes and visit cemeteries to welcome the souls of the loved ones they lost. During the celebration of Día de Los Muertos, the graves of the deceased are cleaned and decorated with candles and the Flowers of the Dead- marigolds. Mexicans believe that the souls of the dead are able to consume the spiritual essence of the food, and for this reason, they prepare the favorite dishes of the deceased and bring them to their resting place. The purpose of this is to encourage the spirits to come and hear the prayers and remembrance words of their living relatives. Some also leave food in their homes to show the dead that they are welcome, while others leave pillows and blankets. Thus, the souls of the dead can feast and rest after the long journey from heaven. On the Day of the Dead, Mexicans dress in various embroidered costumes, and their faces are often painted to represent skulls. One of the most traditional costumes is the one of Catrina. La Catrina first appeared in the works of the Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada. She is painted as a female skeleton with a pompous hat that serves as an irony of the fashion among the upper class from the early 1920s but also shows that no matter how rich and modern you are, you are still mortal.
The Jewish Carnival- Purim
One of the most attractive and cheerful Jewish holidays is Purim, also known as the Jewish Carnival. On this day, the Jews rejoice in the failure of the evil Haman's plot to kill them in Chaldean Babylon. Purim's story takes place in the Persian Empire, which King Ahasuerus ruled. The main heroine Esther ascends to the throne of Persia with the assistance of her cousin and guardian, Mordecai. Although Esther initially concealed her Jewish ancestry from non-Jews, she eventually revealed herself to King Ahasuerus and begged him for the Jews' salvation. In the end, the king decided to assist, which resulted in the failure of the conspiracy and the punishment of Haman and the other anti-Semites. On this day, to celebrate, the Jews dress up (often as characters from The book of Esther); go to parties and drink wine; exchange presents, and make donations to the poor. Hamantaschen (triangular cakes with sweet filling) are eaten as a special holiday treat, and the feast's history is read aloud in every synagogue. During these readings, whenever the name of the villain Haman is mentioned, everyone stomps their feet and makes a loud noise. Purim is a very happy holiday that everyone in the Jewish community celebrates.
This short journey showed you a really small part of all of the existing carnivals around the world. Although there is a big difference in the customs and the reasons for each of these festival celebrations,there is one thing that remains consistent- people's love for mysteries and masquerades. And Halloween is no exception.Take away the enigma and the costumes and all that remains is just a normal holiday with an abnormal candy consumption. Speaking of costumes, the planning of the perfect one, although fun, is a pretty time-consuming task. If you still haven't decided which is the right one for you, The Holiday Blog is more than happy to be your little helper and give you some creative and trendy costume ideas. Let's make sure you have the most fun and memorable Halloween experience in 2021!
Halloween Costume Ideas
The fun ones, the scary ones, and the budget-friendly ones. (college students, you are welcome)
Almost like the bulgarian Kukeri Masks, this is a highly versatile costume to have. You can decide if you want to be a happy, smiling clown or give the costume a spooky little twist.
Dressing up as a superhero is never going out of style. It is fun and also a good pick if you have kids at home, although they probably don't need a reminder that you indeed are a superhero.
This is an interesting costume choice that will get you noticed for sure. Combine it with the previous one, and you have a great couples costume idea.
This is a really underappreciated one. It can be easily pulled off on a budget, or you could go all-in using the services of a professional makeup artist. What will make it really special, though, will be some good acting skills.
The classic Halloween characters are in the spotlight this holiday season. The good old sheet-ghost costume is not only practical but also highly budget-friendly. Putting sunglasses on gives this costume a quite charming, edgy touch.
Another classic one, the witch costume, is probably the one that lets you accessorize the most. If details are your thing, this one is perhaps the best pick for you.
You can't go wrong with this one. Especially, if scary Halloween activities chicken you out.
Remember that no matter what costume you pick this year, the most important thing is to enjoy yourself and spend time with your family and friends!
Did you enjoy the adventure? Did you get inspired? If so, all you have to do is subscribe to The Holiday Blog, so you never miss out on future posts! Want to see even more Halloween costume ideas? Check out this Pinterest board for some spooky inspiration.
The Holiday Blog wishes you and your loved ones a very spooky and Happy Halloween!