All Hallows Eve: Modern Traditions and Ancient Festivals
Halloween is one of the most popular festivals celebrated all over the world. Its modern origins lie in the American festival known as All Hallows Eve, celebrated on the eve of All Saints Day.
All Saints Day honours all saints, known and unknown. It is succeeded by All Souls Day, which honours the dead, and preceded by All Hallows Eve – a day filled with festivities that encourage community and neighbourly get-togethers.
Looking for All Saints Day tattoo inspiration? Visit Angel Tattoos: An Upgraded Blessing!
But the tradition of Halloween, as All Hallows Eve is more popularly known, is much older. Originating in ancient Celtic traditions, Halloween has its roots in the festival of Samhain, where people lit bonfires and donned costumes to ward off evil spirits and ghosts.
Later on, the Catholic church in Rome designated a day to honour Christian martyrs, called All Martyrs Day. This day was soon expanded to include all saints, and moved to the 1st of November. As Christianity spread, it absorbed many older Celtic traditions – including Samhain – which was later rebranded as Halloween. The church eventually designated the 31st of October as the official day for Halloween, calling it All Saints Day.
Halloween soon travelled from Europe to America as a way to celebrate the harvest during autumn. People would gather to tell spooky stories, read eachother’s fortune, and engage in a whole lot of merrymaking.
With the influx of Irish immigrants escaping the Irish Potato Famine who popularized the festival, Halloween became one of the most commonly celebrated festivals in America.
The original festival grew to include many more festivities, including dressing up for fun, carving lanterns, and trick-or-treating, and has gone on to inspire similar celebrations across the world.
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Halloween Tattoos: Spooky Tales Told Through Ink
Horror tattoos have gained popularity over time, but they get a special boost during Halloween. Which isn’t surprising given that the air is ripe with inspiration during this season!
Addams Family Tattoo
The Addams Family, as the first family of horror, have been an absolute favourite for lovers of all things spooky.
Originally created as a satire on the typical suburban family, the Addamses are shown to be a loving albeit mysterious family that revel in all things macabre – and boy, do we love them for it!
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Another popular figure in horror is the alien – a spooky creature from outer space that arrives in a UFO, causing mayhem through abductions and wild experiments.
But over time, the alien has become a symbol for all those who feel a little different inside, or in other words, ‘alienated’ from society.
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No Halloween tattoo list is complete without a mention of bats! Besides being one of the most popular Halloween decorations, bats represent vampires – who happen to be one of the most popular figures in horror!
From Nosferatu and Count Dracula, to Blade and Selene – to the Cullens – vampires have been a staple in horror for decades. Usually described as immortal beings that are stunning and in possession of immense power, including superhuman strength and speed as well as mind control, vampires have held our fascination for centuries – and that’s probably going to remain true for many more to come!
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Looking for more animal tattoo inspiration? Visit Animal Tattoos and their Meanings
The skull is a classic across all kinds of tattooing, but it certainly holds a special place in the hearts of horror lovers.
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Skulls traditionally represent death and mortality, but in tattoos, they’ve found a much wider range of meaning – from protection and strength, to power and overcoming adversity.
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Like these? Find more skull tattoo inspiration at Going Old-School: The Classic Skull Tattoo
Now most people hear ‘clown’ and think – funny! But clowns have been a common feature in many a Halloween tale.
There’s something very unsettling about hearing carnival music softly playing across an old, abandoned circus with a lone creepy clown prowling the area, luring young children into their lair of unspeakable horrors.
And with Pennywise now on the loose, this version of the clown is here to stay!
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Yet another classic, the zombie!
If you’re from the 90s, you probably grew up hearing so much about the imminent zombie apocalypse that you spent plenty of time fantasizing about how you’d survive when it hit.
Stock up essentials and weapons, build a shelter, drive a jeep – why the jeep? Who knows, maybe it’s easier to shoot out of, maybe it’s just a really cool looking vehicle – but it somehow always featured in these movies!
Check out Eye Tattoos: What Do You See? for more eye tattoo inspiration!
Horror Movie Tattoo
Much like vampires and zombies, characters from horror tales are a fan-favourite when it comes to tattoos. Of these, none are more popular than Michael Myers – the serial killer from Halloween slasher film series.
Inspired by Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’, ‘Halloween’ was the first in a line of slasher films that went on to redefine the horror genre. Interestingly enough, Myers’ mask, ‘The Shape’ was modelled after William Shatner’s ‘Captain Kirk’!
Of course, Myers isn’t the only horror character that is beloved – or that has caused many a nightmare! The Pale Man from Pan’s Labyrinth, despite having limited screen time, is another character that has become popular among horror aficionados.
Which horror character would you get tattooed? Let us know!
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Speaking of horror characters and masks – masks themselves are quite popular as Halloween tattoos!
While there are a wide range to choose from, one in particular tends to show up more often – the Oni mask. In Japanese tradition, Oni are ogre-like demons with horns who were thought to be the souls of the dead. Though originally considered to be wicked, they are now thought to be protectors that dispel bad luck.
Oni masks are quite similar to Hannya masks, which represent a woman so full of rage and envy, it distorts her face and turns her into a demon.
Visit Tattoos of Asia: Irezumi and the Art of Storytelling for more on Japanese tattoos. After that, check out Tattoos of Asia: A Treasure Trove of Ancient Cultural Traditions to learn more about the origins of tattooing across Asia.
If you’re looking for something more terrifying than an Oni mask, how about something that looks like a real-life Hannya transformation?
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*Shudder* Talk about creepy!
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Liked this post? Check out our other blogs!
- Animal Tattoos and their Meanings
- Eye Tattoos: What Do You See?
- Angel Tattoos: An Upgraded Blessing!
- Polynesia and the Tale of Tribal Tattooing
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Need some help? Check out our Tattoos and Humans series for tips on how to get a tattoo, select a design, find an artist, and more!
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