How similar are Carnival and Halloween to each other? That is an interesting question to ask. Both of them are popular folk festivals. Moreover, they share some common themes. But just how much overlap is there between the two?
Halloween takes place on 31 October, the eve of the Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day. Its origins can be traced back to Ireland, from where it first spread to the Americas. However, the festival has also increasingly gained a foothold in continental Europe in the last few decades. Halloween is believed to be derived from pagan Celtic harvest festivals, particularly Samhain, which was later Christianized as Halloween by the early Church. It is a holiday where people dress up in costumes and roam the streets. Part of this forms the custom called trick-or-treating, which is an activity where children go from house to house and ask for candy or money.
Carnival is a Christian festive season that takes place before the liturgical season of Lent. Most of its festivities are in February and early March. The most famous Carnivals in Europe are to be found in Germany and the Benelux countries. Carnival usually takes the form of a public celebration or parade, with the people in attendance wearing masks and costumes. The parades often deal with current events in politics and society by portraying them in a humorous way. Just like Halloween, Carnivals were originally pagan festivals that were later redefined in a Christian context. In pagan times, the Germanic peoples hoped to drive away evil spirits or winter with them.
In conclusion, it can be said that Carnival and Halloween have quite a few things in common. Both of them started out as pagan festivals. Both of them involve people dressing up in costumes. However, there are enough things that set them apart from each other, so either of them is important in its own right.
‘Carnival’ (2017) Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnival (Accessed: 30 November 2017)
‘Halloween’ (2017) Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween (Accessed: 30 November 2017)
Narrenbrauch contra Halloween-Hype: Das sind die Unterschiede von Halloween und Karneval (2017) Available at: http://www.focus.de/wissen/praxistipps/halloween-und-karneval-das-sind-die-unterschiede_id_7758443.html (Accessed: 30 November 2017)