The end of October is a time of celebration all over the world. Most of us will know the festival as ‘Halloween’, a named derived from ‘All Hallows Eve’. This originally pagan festival was appropriated by the Christian church as a celebration of the lives of saints, martyrs and all the beloved departed.
From these sacred roots, Halloween has evolved into a more light-hearted, family orientated and secular event for most cultures – a mischievous occasion full of dressing up, sugary treats and idiosyncratic customs. With shops and offices all over the world, we at E&V have enjoyed many a Halloween celebration. Here are a few of our favourites.
Historical home of Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration for the Dracula stories, Romania delights in being the birthplace of European vampiric legend. Fêted as a national hero, whose harsh but necessary leadership strategies kept his country safe from invaders, the real life Vlad is just as celebrated in Romania as the chillingly charismatic Count popularised by Bram Stoker. You can tour Romania’s ghoulish haunts throughout the year, and visit Vlad the Impaler’s seat of governance in Wallachia.
North American Halloween celebrations take their inspiration from October’s bounty, celebrating the last few days of harvest plenty. You’ll find children in bright costumes trick-or-treating round neighbourhoods decorated with carved pumpkins. The trick-or-treating tradition is thought to derive from the practise of leaving food to appease wandering spirits on All Hallows Eve. For those who prefer the giddy side of the celebrations, Delaware hosts a pumpkin launching world championship, or if the wandering spirits appeal to your uncanny nature, the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia regularly opens its gates for a ‘Terror Behind The Walls’ event.
The ‘Dia de los Muertos’ goes back thousands of years, and honours the lives of relatives who have passed away. The festival has been influenced by various traditions – skull masks are worn as a nod towards the Aztec practise of displaying the skulls of the dead, and Catholic-inspired shrines are decked out with flowers and candles. The ‘Festival Cultural de Calaveras’ takes place in Aguascalientes, and features art, theatre, food and music in joyful celebration of death as a natural part of life.
It has been argued that the Halloween festival really began in Ireland, in the form of the Celtic celebration of Samhain, or ‘summer’s end’. The transitional period between the end of the season of plenty and the beginning of the long scarce winter was believed to thin the barrier between the worlds, allowing supernatural forces in to wreak merry havoc. The Irish celebrate Halloween with a special cake called barnbrack, containing trinkets that are meant to foretell a person’s luck for the coming year. The Samhaim Festival in Dublin includes a gravedigger’s tour of the cemetery and a storytelling supper.
Whether you’re looking to buy or sell, The Emerald Isle’s ancient beauty and rich culture makes properties there highly sought after. Engel & Völkers is perfectly placed to ensure that each step of the process runs smoothly, utilising our years of expertise and expansive local knowledge. Visit the Engel & Völkers Ireland website to find out more.