Every Oct 31st in North American countries children of all ages don costumes, go door-to-door begging for candy, carve pumpkin into glowing lanterns, and come together with friends to scare each other and celebrate all in the name of Halloween.
But how did this spooky holiday come to be? To answer that, we have to travel back 2,000 years when the Celts ruled over what is now Ireland, the UK and Northern France.
The Celts celebrated New Years on November 1st, and believed that on the night before the new year (called Samhain), the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred, and the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. It was believed that these ghosts often caused mischief, or damaged crops, but also made it easier for Druids (Celtic spiritual leaders) to see the future. To protect themselves from these dead spirits families would crave lanterns out of turnips as these ‘head’ vegetables were believed to have to power to ward off the trouble causing spirits. In North America, pumpkins were more easily available then turnips, which is we today carve pumpkins!
To mark Samhain and the new year, Celtic homes extinguished their hearth fires, dressed in costumes of animals heads and skins and visited a sacred bonfire built by the Druids. Crops and animals would be sacrificed to the Celtic deities, and when the people returned home, they would re-light their hearth fires using a torch from the sacred fire. It was believed bringing the sacred fire into the home would protect the family during the harsh winter months.
As the Romans conquered the Celts territory, they brought with the festivals of Feralia (which honours the dead) and Pomona (which honours the Roman goddess of fruit and trees). As was very common with cultures conquered by the Romans, the new festivals were merged into the existing culture and it is believed that this is wear the tradition of bobbing for apples comes from, as Pomona’s symbol is the apple.
As the influence of Christianity spread into the land, the Catholic Church sought ways to replace the Pagan festivals with a church sanctioned holiday. In 800 CE, November 1st was declared All Saints’ Day (or Alholowmesse in Middle English) and so Samhain began to be called All-hallows Eve, and eventually Halloween. Two hundred years later the church declared November 2nd All Souls Day, which was celebrated in much the same was as Samhain had been, with bonfires, and communal gatherings – although by now the animals costumes had been replaced by angels and devils.
As North America filled up with European immigrants, they brought their various Halloween traditions to the new world, and on Halloween people would dress in costume and go door to door begging for food or money, which has become known as ‘trick – or – treating’ today. According to some beliefs you give a treat as to avoid a trick being played on you, but others maintain you must perform a trick at each house in order to get your treat. In the early 1900s there was a push to connect Halloween to community, and away from religious traditions. Newspapers and community leaders urged parents to remove anything considered frightening from the holiday to make it more family friendly and as a result Halloween in North America has become a secular holiday.
Today however, frightening has once again become synonymous with Halloween as people decorate their homes and themselves in spooky trimmings and attempt to share the trick-or-treaters that come calling. Haunted house, ghost tours, and scary movie screenings have been added to the ways that you can celebrate the holiday.
Are you dressing up? Share you costume with the community, or let us know what your dream costume would be!
Halloween: Ancient Origins
Halloween: Halloween Comes to America
Wikipedia: Halloween Symbols
LearnHub would like to wish all its users a Happy Diwali this October 28th!
For all those who are celebrating Diwali, LearnHub would like to wish you a great holiday. May this festival of lights be one of enjoyment, of fun and of close time with your loved ones. We wish you health, wealth and happiness. And eat lots of sweets!
“Regardless of the mythological explanation one prefers, what the festival of lights really stands for today is a reaffirmation of hope, a renewed commitment to friendship and goodwill, and a religiously sanctioned celebration of the simple – and some not so simple – joys of life."
The Times of India
Click here to learn more about Diwali!
It’s a word we are all familiar with it. Chances are, if you are able to read this right now, you have the ability to make a difference.
Learnhub is all about learning. Not everyone has this opportunity for an education. So we at Learnhub would like to take some time, on behalf of Blog Action Day, to talk about poverty and how we can learn to solve it.
This issue reaches all areas of our culture, society and daily lives. Take a look at the different ways society teaches us what poverty is and how we can make a difference.
The Etymology of Poverty
The words “poverty” and “poor” come from Latin word pauper, meaning “poor”. Its root word, pario, means “giving birth to not much” and referred to unproductive agriculture and livestock.
Issues of Poverty We Need To Work On
- Active citizenship. So many of us take elections and voting for granted.
- Agriculture. Food to sustain our families and for exporting.
- Aid effectiveness. Is the money we donate getting to the people who need it?
- Climate change. So many people depend on Mother Nature for a safe home and enough food.
- Disease. AIDs, malaria and other diseases are rampant in many countries. Somebody is infected with the HIV virus every eight seconds.
- Education. The systemic root cause for a lot of today’s problems.
- Emergency Response. Are we prepared to help those affected by earthquakes, floods or tsunamis?
- Indigenous and minority rights. In many countries, women and other minorities still don’t get the same advantages we do.
- Natural Resources. How do we keep our earth available for our disposal?
- Peace and security. Civil war and conflict, particularly in Darfur, has become a scary issue which needs the dire attention of our governments.
- Private sector. Helping economies around the world help to make our globe more unified.
- Trade. Imports and exports are crucial to the flow of a country’s economy.
- Youth outreach. The children of today can be the future leaders of tomorrow.
These organizations are large, trustworthy and aim to make a difference.
Oxfam is one of the best organizations in the search for ending poverty – Chris Martin of the band Coldplay is a great advocate for this group.
Make Poverty History is responsible for the white bracelet bands which so many people wear – a symbol and request for change.
Free the Children is a Canadian children’s charity started by Craig Kielberger, who was only 12 years old at the time. Their goal is to free children from war and poverty – and for more advantaged children to help them out. Featured Oprah, the organization’s “Me to We Day” is their famous approach to creating change and leadership.
UNICEF, or the United Nations’ Children’s Fund works for children’s rights, their survival, development and protection. On Halloween, many kids wear UNICEF boxes around their neck where coin change is dropped in them, in order to help donate for the cause.
Books to Read
Famous economist John Galbraith wrote The Nature of Mass Poverty in 1979, reflecting on his experiences as an ambassador to India and the poverty he saw there. The Bottom Billion by Paul Collier discusses the poorest of the poor in our world. Jeffrey Sachs’ The End of Poverty is a fairly new book with a foreword by U2 frontman Bono. There are many great resources out there to read up on.
What can we do?
The cycle of poverty is a vicious one. You have an infinite amount of ways to help people – whether it is right in your own town or halfway across the world in another continent.
World Vision allows you to donate gifts to people in Third World countries in a really cool format called the Gift Catalog. You can buy a goat, a chicken, 5 ducks, or even a water well. You can sponsor a child or simply donate money to established organizations.
Push your government. Write letters, hold peaceful protests and demonstrations. Join a club or organization dedicated to eradicating poverty and encouraging world peace. Start a petition. Vote for parties and politicians who take this issue seriously and want change.
Volunteer at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen for homeless individuals in your own town. Your time and effort is one of the greatest gifts you can give to a person. Donate food.
Commit a percentage of your income each month to helping others and giving to the poor and needy. Hold charity benefits and fundraisers at schools, companies or just with people you know.
Take a mission trip to disadvantaged countries to see how they live and to help them first-hand. Teach your children. Teach your friends. Educate others. Knowledge is one of the most important things you could ever give a person.
But you say, “But I’m only one person.”
I’ll tell you a quick story. When I was a young kid, I went on a trip to Indonesia. One night, I was walking with my father. There was an old man on the street who was missing his legs. My father gave him some change – some rupiahs, nothing big. I nudged my dad and whispered to him to give him a little bit more. So we gave him more – maybe about 2 Canadian dollars. It was nothing to us – but for the old man, he had the most amazed look on his face. He looked at us in incredible astonishment – disbelief. To think someone would be so grateful for some coins we wouldn’t even blink an eye for – that really did something to me. So when people tell me, “I’m only one person – I can’t make a difference”, how do I respond?
That’s all you need!
Celebration Time! — It is with great honour we announce that LearnHub has been selected as a winner at Red Herring Canada’s first annual Top 50 awards!
On September 16, 2008, Red Herring Canada, a global media company, recognized LearnHub as one of “the most innovative and promising companies in Canada”.
LearnHub was chosen as a winner under the Internet/Services category for its standout financial performance, technology innovation, quality of management, execution of strategy, and integration into their ecosystem.
It’s a very exciting accomplishment, and we are thrilled to see that the public is responding and views us as one of the “latest trends and strongest advancements in technology”.
For the complete 2008 list of winners and finalists.
Over the last month, I may have been hinting from time to time that a major update was on the horizon. But not just your average update – a huge, massive, colossal update that will change the way everyone uses LearnHub. Well, I wasn’t kidding.
Carsten, Wes, and Libin, our brilliant developers, have taken the community concept and built a user-friendly environment for students and teachers to share their knowledge with the Social Learning world.
Rather than listen to me talk about it, I recommend you visit your favorite communities – or your led communities. It will be well worth it!
Here are some popular communities you will find worth the visit:
Teach and Learn, Online with LearnHub’s Social Learning Platform.
Savvica Inc has announced the public launch of their latest venture, LearnHub.com. After two months of running in Private Beta, LearnHub opens its doors to public users allowing them to access to the most comprehensive and user friendly web learning system on the internet.
“We’ve pretty much been working nonstop to get to this place” said Founder and CEO Malgosia Green “The entire team is very excited about what LearnHub brings to the online learning table in terms of usability and features”.
LearnHub provides a centralized online education destination for teachers and learners of all kinds. With seventeen different features on one fully-hosted website and a number of strategic partnerships, LearnHub is poised to become a significant online learning destination.
Read more about LearnHub’s launch in our media section.