Happy Halloween

October 31st may not ring a bell for many adults as an auspicious date, but for the children in the West, and rapidly gaining traction in Vietnam, it screams loud and clear, one thing, Trick or Treat!

Think monsters, creepy haunted houses, witches, werewolves, ghosts, goblins, wizards, horror movies and on a lighter side, candy. It’s a parent’s dilemma, have fun but don’t eat too much candy, yeah sure mum! And let’s not forget, it’s not all about the kids having fun, (there are certainly some “Hot” adult costumes getting about), the parents are out there enjoying the evening, and getting up to some mischief as well. Nha Trang, the party town that it is, will be celebrating this ancient pagan festival with gusto. The town will be pimped up in macabre, gruesome and ghastly decorations. Spindly legged spiders perched in their sticky webs, spooky and bewitching carved pumpkins, ghoulish characters plundering vats of beer, and all in the name of fun. Sailing Club will be holding their annual Halloween “Spirit World” beach party, decked out in skeletons, zombies and other grisly spirits cavorting on the sand. Restaurants, bars, and hotels lining Tran Phu Boulevard will all be rocking the night away with live bands, DJ’s, intriguing costume dance parties, Halloween goodies, and banquets. Disguise yourself, create some mystery and magic on this once a year night! Traffic will come to a standstill in Tran Phu Street near the Cultural center, with parents out and about, costumed and face painted kids straddling the handlebars to check out the otherworldly, blood spattered, bandaged, and painted characters that are roaming the city.

Halloween is actually one of the oldest holidays still celebrated today. It’s one of the most popular days off, running a close second to Christmas after TET. While millions of people celebrate Halloween without knowing its origins and myths, a little history of Halloween makes the day more fascinating. Some people view Halloween as a time for fun, putting on costumes, trick-or-treating, and having theme parties. Others view it as a time of superstition, ghosts, goblins and evil spirits that should be avoided at all costs. As the Christian debate goes on, celebrating Halloween is a preference that is not always viewed as participating in an evil holiday. Halloween is often celebrated with no reference to pagan rituals or the occult.

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Halloween is on October 31st, the last day of the Celtic calendar. It was originally a pagan holiday, honoring the dead, and was referred to as All Hallows Eve and dates back over 2000 years. All Hallows Eve is the evening before All Saints Day, which was created by Christians to convert pagans, and is celebrated on November 1st. The Catholic Church honored saints on this designated day.

While there are many versions and old customs of Halloween, some remain consistent. Halloween culture can be traced back to the Druids, a Celtic culture in Ireland, Britain and Northern Europe. Its roots lay in the feast of Samhain, which was held annually on October 31st to honor the dead. Samhain signifies “summers end” or November. Samhain was a harvest festival with huge sacred bonfires, marking the end of the Celtic year and the beginning of a new one. Many of the practices involved on this occasion were fed on superstition.

The Celts believed the souls of the dead roamed the streets and villages at night, and since not all spirits were thought to be friendly, gifts and treats were left out to pacify the evil and ensure next year’s crops would be plentiful. This custom evolved into trick-or-treating.

Known as All Hallows’ Eve in those times, it has gradually morphed into what is now internationally known as Halloween. So get your glad rags’ on, or your most disgusting vagrant wraps, cruise the streets, listen to the tunes, enjoy a cold brew or two, and check out Nha Trang’s city wide Halloween blowout!

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