Fascinating Holidays for the Paranormal

Optional audio transcript

Holidays are the best. You have the opportunity to cook for a special reason, to see friends and family, and to decorate to the max without feeling judged by those pesky neighbors. With some festivities, there are holidays for the paranormal. In looking through the paranormal, there are many holidays dealing with the dead, spirituality, and scaring people in general all around the world.

Looking at these celebrations, you will see how much humanity really deals with the paranormal and how they may actually try to avoid it. While some of these are more into bringing fear, most are occasions of reflection and peace, and most dealing with the dead.

Halloween, and it is a long one.

And also, the obvious one. As much as you love Halloween, you’ll love it even more knowing the history that encircles it. Halloween is a bit of an amalgamation of other holidays. The modern festivities came later as you’ll see. The idea of Halloween starts with Samhain, pronounced Sah-win, a Celtic pagan holiday. This holiday demonstrates the beginning of the darker days and the “thinning veil” of the living and dead.

It appears to be the holiday much like New Years, with finding growth and reflecting, but in a spiritual way. Those who follow this holiday create an altar, pray to their gods, and honor the dead, including their ancestors.

There is a massive list of different things people do on this holiday, from divination to extinguishing any lights to dumb suppers.

Halloween holidays by SzaboJanos 
Halloween holidays by SzaboJanos 

The oldest timeline that I could find on when this holiday started was about 2,500 years ago.

Then on from there, in the 8th century, Pope Gregory III decided that November 1st should be All Saints Day. Another timeline dictates that Pope Boniface IV created All Souls’ Day on May 13th in 609 A.D. and that Pope Gregory III just changed the dates to November.

These days were to recognize the Saints and those who have passed and not yet passed. Much like Samhain, it deals in reflection, prayer, but the main difference is what they believe in. While one seeks out the gods and the dead, All Saint’s Day deals with more of the Saints and the Christian God.

While not on the same day as Halloween, other holidays do have great similarities to the older practices of it.

In Scotland and Ireland, a version of trick-or-treat emerged with kids going door to door asking for soul cakes. These cakes were a trade deal for prayer of that family’s dead. How sweet. They even started to dress up.

Halloween in America was much different. While the history is much about prayer and company, America once again takes it a bit too far, and vandalism came to town.

In 1914, Halloween was changed forever in American when Elizabeth Krebs stepped on scene. After always having her Hiawatha Garden Club flowers destroyed time and time again on the holiday, she decided to do something about it.

Krebs decided to celebrate the holiday with a parade and a party for children to keep them away from vandalism. It took a few years and some committee help, but she aided the way for Halloween to be a celebration, not a time for chaos. She could very well be the creator of modern-day Halloween.

All of these holidays are celebrated separately still, to this day.

Día de los Muertos

Otherwise known as the Day of the Dead, this holiday is also celebrated in many other countries than just Mexico. Being very different from modern-day Halloween, the holiday brings in a party to celebrate the dead, rather than just asking for candy.

The holiday also jumps into November, with the 1st being Dia de los Angelitos, meaning “Spirits of the Children”, and the 2nd holding Día de los Difuntos and Día de los Muertos, meaning “Spirits of the Adults” and “Spirits of all Dead”, respectively.

During this holiday, there is a plethora of skull decorations and marigolds, which are seen to aid in communicating with the dead. Offerings are also made to the dead as a sign of respect and remembrance.

Skull arrangement for the holidays by StockSnap 
Skull arrangement for the holidays by StockSnap 

The Day of the Dead began around 3,000 years ago, with the Aztecs. The Aztecs celebrated Mictēcacihuātl, the Goddess of Death. Originally happening in August, the earlier practices of the holiday consisted of offerings on graves and altars.

With the Spanish coming in to seek new land, they attempted to erase history of the Aztec-based holiday (and the religion itself), but it never happened. It did, however, create a balance with saints and gods in areas around Central America.

The holiday is celebrated all over Central and South America.

Perchtenlauf

The first holiday to not exist in Fall, Perchtenlauf is primarily celebrated in Germany and Austria. It is celebrated at the of December to the beginning of January. If you remember anything about Krampus, well, put it in a box and learn of the Austrian Krampus. Evil looking creatures will run the streets to ward off other evil using bells.

Even more, in Tyrol, there is a parade of sorts, called the Perchten Run, where people will dress up as these evil creatures and go door to door beating drums. Sometimes they are let in, sometimes not. They will beat their drums, anyways, in thanks.

This is a loud holiday.

Krampus by Jody Marx holidays
Krampus by Jody Marx 

But why do they do this? There is a story that Frau Perchta was a woman who would protect those from trickster demons and sees to various punishments, on whom, I suppose the demons. She is said to have also created said demons, so I believe she was a bit like a “demon mother” of sorts.

The celebration came from her name, aiding in banishing bad paranormal creatures of all types. How sweet.

Walpurgis Night

Going off another pagan and Christian holiday, this one is celebrated on April 30th, starting in Europe. The date never changes.

It is a combination of Beltane, a pagan holiday, and Saint Walpurga. Saint Walpurga lived in the 700s and was a missionary. She also studied medicine and may have been able to null spells from witchcraft.

Her tomb sits in Eichstätt, Germany and is said to heal sickness.

To celebrate her, people will dance and use massive bonfires to ward off any spells or witchcraft.

On the other side, there is Beltane. It has an unknown timeline of origin, but it is celebrated by Celtic pagans. The word means “the fires of Bel“, with Bel possibly referring to Belenus, their Sun God.

This holiday is celebrated with the famed maypole, bonfires, and dancing. The two already have very similar traditions, so it makes sense as to why they merged.

Modern-day Walpurgis Night is celebrated very closely to its ancient one, with dancing and fire. It is also the second “thinning of the veil”, on the other side of the calendar from Halloween, for spiritual communications.

While this one isn’t about your typical paranormal, it was fascinating as it deals in both practicing some form of witchcraft and abolishing it.

Hungry Ghost Festival

The Hungry Ghost Festival is on August 12th and celebrated in China, and while it is all about food, you’re not eating ghosts, but exactly the opposite. It is during the Ghost Month, which itself is the entirety of August or September. It has different names depending on religion stance. For Taoists, it is called the Zhongyuan Festival and for Buddhists, the Yulanpen Festival.

Much like the older holidays in this list, there is no timeline on when the festival started. There is a story, though. Focusing on a monk named Mu Lian, or Mulian, the story is of his attempt to save his mother from the underworld. He asks Buddha for help, who replied for the monk to pray. So, when the ceremonies are done, the mother of Mu Lian is freed.

Hungry Ghost holidays from Cnpintyin
Hungry Ghost from Cnpintyin

While the timeline of the holiday isn’t known, the story can be placed between the years of 200 and 300.

Certain ceremonies take place on this holiday, like adding in place settings for ancestors, burning incense, and prepping food for each mealtime. These aren’t eaten by the living, but by the dead to avoid any misgivings.

Holidays galore

There are many more than this list and it very well could continue to grow as more cultural traditions and religious practices merge into something else. Humanity is both fascinated and fearful of the paranormal and it shows well in holidays. You never want a demon in your home, and you’ll probably jump out of your skin if your dead grandmother says, “Hello”, even if you’ve invited her there. These holidays are primarily to honor and ward, even if you didn’t realize that was what you were celebrating.

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