Halloween is not in October, it’s in April!

The origins of the festival suggest South Africans should be trick-or-treating at the start of winter

31 October 2018 - 00:00 By Zola Zingithwa
Although South Africans celebrate Halloween in October, the festival's origins suggest we should be celebrating it in April.
Although South Africans celebrate Halloween in October, the festival's origins suggest we should be celebrating it in April.
Image: 123RF/serrnovik

South Africans have been getting into the spirit of Halloween over the past few weeks, from neighbourhood trick-or-treat events to adult-only parties.

Yet, the question is, should South Africans even be celebrating Halloween in October? Of course, you might say. When else would you celebrate it? Everyone knows Halloween falls on October 31.

However, because South Africa is in the southern hemisphere, it would make more sense to celebrate Halloween at the end of April. This is because, as the BBC reports, Halloween has its roots in the ancient Gaelic festival of Samhain.

According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Samhain started from the belief that just before the start of winter, the barrier between the earthly world and the world of the gods was broken. This enabled spirits, ghosts and other strange creatures to wander between the different planes.

The start of winter, and the close of the harvest season, is at the end of October in the northern hemisphere — in the southern hemisphere, that period would fall at the end of April.

Damon Leff, director of the South African Pagan Rights Alliance, says for Pagans, Samhain is a religious festival and is a time to honour the dead and the ancestors. Therefore, Pagans should “consciously distance themselves from commercial Halloween promotions”.

Leff explains that southern hemisphere Pagans will be celebrating Beltaine at the end of October, a festival that honours the sun and the return of summer. While many people don scary costumes on October 31, Pagans will be hosting feasts, maypole dances and even a Witchcamp on November 3 and 4.

So, as you prepare to trick-or-treat this Halloween, you might want to re-look at your calendar and consider an April celebration. You could always do both … after all, you can’t go to too many parties.

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