Halloween is related to the traditional Celtic “Samhain” celebration that was held at the end of the harvest season to mark the beginning of winter. These days Halloween parties are known more for their spookiness and sense of fun, but Halloween is actually based on some serious themes revolving around life and death. It has deep spiritual roots, and its origins are both pagan and religious, as seen in various festivals that take place around the world between October 31st and November 1st, variously referred to as All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints’ Day, intended to honour one’s ancestors.
By the end of the summer season, or rather, towards the end of fall, it’s very obvious that the days are shorter and nature is losing its power. Everything is dying around us – the ancient Greek myth describing this phenomenon is probably the first psychological explanation of this inevitable transformation.
Queen of the Underworld
According to Greek mythology, the goddess Demeter was the ruler of all nature. She had a daughter, the beautiful young Persephone to whom she was strongly attached. But one day suddenly out of nowhere a carriage appeared, and Persephone was grabbed and taken her to the underworld.
Goddess Demeter was out of her mind with grief and refused to produce any form of life on Earth until her daughter was returned to her.
In the meantime, Persephone realised that she was going be the wife of a powerful god, but her kingdom would be the underworld. First, she was abruptly taken from her beloved mother, then she was brought to this hell, and thirdly, but very interestingly, this dark god Hades (or Pluto) treated her with care and respect and even offered generous amounts of food and luxury. She couldn’t resist, so she took three seeds of pomegranate, and kind of liked it.
Persephone loved her mother but now she had started to love her husband too. So, she tried to make a win-win decision. For the first ninth months of the year she would be in the upper world with her mother, and those three pomegranate seeds would serve as a guarantee that she would return to her husband by the beginning of each winter.
You may be wondering how this story can translate into some new Halloween party ideas for adults, but just think about decorating your apartment with a pomegranate theme, and consider a menu focused on salads, cakes and juices containing this extremely healthy fruit. As far as Halloween party ideas for adults only goes, think about dressing yourself as Persephone and spend the passionate night in the arms of your dark god Hades.
Halloween party ideas for adults decorations can also include Greek theater, easily achieved with the artistic use of white or pastel bed sheets or curtains to decorate your house and yourself. . You could even encourage your guests to play the roles of different Greek gods. With a bit of drama and a lot of laughter this party might turn into something memorable.
Nordic mythology also deals with the underworld theme, as the goddess Hel or Hela rules the underworld, named, as you can already guess, Hel. The concept of dying and crossing over to the other side is ruled by female dominance, because traditionally the powerful, strong women known as Valkyries had the task of carrying the fallen warriors to this kingdom, an honour given only to heroes who had proved their bravery in battle.
In the spirit of this northern tradition, your Halloween celebration might include a Viking feast, with generous amounts of food on the table, especially roasted meat, beer served in big mugs or even in horns. You might try to decorate the walls with some stuffed animal toys to represent real ones. Guests could dress as Valkyries or Warriors, adopting the role they feel most suited to. In fact, a bit of role reversal would probably add to the fun. Everyone would be encouraged to show a stunning enthusiasm to eat as much as they can, talk about their heroic moments and give their best during group singing of, let’s say, ABBA disco hits, rearranged in a hard core manner. ABBA is the most famous Swedish disco band ever, so this could be your somewhat bizarre tribute to this momentous northern night.
Horrible Great Night of Slavic Tribes
If you think that Greek symbolism can’t provoke the fear of inner transformation, then consider the Slavic tradition, in which Halloween is all about their tribal roots. For Slavic tribes, the middle of the fall season represented the entrance to the lower world or Nav.
They believed that the spirits of our ancestors can touch us in those moments and this is why we pay respect to them and look for their help. The gates between Jav, the upper world, and Nav are widely open during this night of horror, which is also respected, and therefore called the Great Night as it marks the end of the harvest season.
The god of nature Veles is closely associated with this celebration. In the same manner as the Greek goddess Persephone, he is born each spring and grows old during the following months. The last stack of wheat, the last piece of every fruit and vegetable is left outside for the god Veles as a gift, and when the Great Night comes he is burnt in the form of a giant doll made out of straw.
Throughout this night, several people had the task of chasing all the other members of the tribe masked like demons. Some of your possibly crazier Halloween party ideas might include masking as traditional Slavic demons, a screamer, a curse-giver, little house devil, angry fairies, water ghosts and many others. Also decorating your home with generous amounts of hay and placing all sorts of fruits, small pumpkins and seeds all around could make this turn out to be one of the best Halloween party ideas inspired by eastern European and northern Asiatic traditions.
Don’t forget the fact that Slavic demons and vampires are afraid of garlic, so you can put chains of small pieces of garlics all over your home and make them into a necklace. In fact, and just for your unique protection, you can generously decorate everything in garlic and ask your guests to bring you more, and in return, you will give them more… yes, garlic. Because, safety comes first, safety comes last.
In Slavic mythology Baba Yaga is known as the most powerful witch of all time. In many stories, she is the ubiquitous character who always tests the great hero and helps him afterwards by giving him the magical horse or a magical stick or the heart of the dragon, whatever special object he needs to achieve his goal. However, in many cases she is known as an atrocious, although witty murderer of all those who don’t properly respect her.
Serving Baba Yaga for years by performing all kinds of hard domestic tasks is on the list of every hero’s journey and having this in mind as one of the Halloween party theme ideas you can use this Slavic witch for inspiration. Feel free to decorate your home in a completely illogical style , because Baba Yaga lives in a house that stands on one chicken leg, so you will get the general idea of how odd everything should be. Role reversal could play its part here too, as male guests are encouraged to do small and funny domestic jobs during this particular night, while female guests have the exclusive task of doing your nails. Yes, Baba Yaga has a special girl who does her nails regularly. In return, you can serve them all special dishes renamed as griffon’s legs, dragon’s hearts and with similar surprise names for your special desserts.
Halloween, Samhain or the Great Night isn’t just the time for fun and games. This is a very old and sacred night when everything dies, everything transforms and the realms merge. Think of it mostly as the perfect moment to dive deep into your psychological or national roots, to get closer to your ancestors and to realize that the only thing that is constant is change itself. This is also the best time to release all old grief and grievances, to forgive and forget those who did you wrong and to free your soul.
There is something good in contemplating the underworld too, because it firstly forces us to face our demons and fears, then it allows us to be alone, to experience the peace of nothingness and release our relentless thinking processes. So, burn everything you no longer need from your past, take some time meditating or simply relaxing your mind and before you know it the spring will be almost here to announce the new phase in life, the new you, the new joy and creation waiting to be born out of the ashes of this holy, horror-filled and above all, sacred night.
Have a great Halloween, Samhain or Great Night celebration and don’t be afraid, well, maybe just a little, because fear of the unknown is the secret ingredient which makes us stronger and helps to make this life exciting and worth living!