First Halloween Festival Celebration in Saudi Arabia, Review

As part of modernization efforts under Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) celebrated the once-banned Halloween festival for the first time in history. Saudi Arabia celebrated Halloween with revelers dressed up in scary costumes flocking to the capital city of Riyadh to enjoy the festivities.

As part of the “Scary Weekend” celebration on Riyadh’s Boulevard, thousands dressed up in scary costumes to celebrate Halloween. In honor of Halloween, the Boulevard was transformed into a costume party. The public was allowed to enter for free when they wore terrifying disguises.

According to Arab News, one attendee, Abdulrahman, wore a costume of the North American mythological creature Wendigo.  Another eventgoer, Khaled Alharbi, attended the event with his family members. This was the family’s first time celebrating Halloween.

The event concluded with a fireworks show, enhanced sound effects, and eerie decorations.

For those unversed, Halloween is a holiday celebrated in America on October 31 where people wear costumes, scary masks, and clothes to mimic ghosts, witches, vampires, skeletons, and other spooky characters. Also, Read Saudi Arabia Bans Carrying ZamZam Water in Bags.

The “Scary Weekend” was the second costume-themed event to take place in the KSA capital. Earlier, a masquerade party had taken place on 17 and 18 March.

Although the event allowed revelers to parade their creativity and have fun, the “ultra-modern” event drew criticism from Muslim social media users over allowing and celebrating the once-banned non-Muslim festival.

Earlier in 2018, Saudi police raided a Halloween party and arrested people.

These modern transformations have taken place in the kingdom since the Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, started getting rid of social restrictions. The Crown Prince also launched a campaign to develop entertainment options as a new economic sector apart from oil.

What is Halloween?

Halloween is always celebrated on 31 October, which this year means it will be observed on a Monday.

It coincides with the eve of the Christian feast of All Saints (or All Hallows’) Day, with its name originating from “Hallows’ Eve”.

The word itself dates back to the 18th century, with the original meaning of “hallowed (or holy) evening”.

All Saints Day gives worshippers the opportunity to remember martyrs and saints, and originates as far back as the 4th century, although the date was not moved to 1 November until 837AD.

History of Halloween

Halloween, in the modern world, is celebrated by dressing up as fictional characters, performing cosplay, and stuffing oneself with candies and pumpkin pies. However, this dates back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain which was regarded as a harvest festival. Some theories suggest that the festival of Samhain has its roots in paganism. It was believed that on the day of Halloween, the lines between the living world and the dead would get blurred. Hence, the spirits would visit their loved ones. While some people prefer to decorate their homes and cook delicious dishes to welcome the spirits of their ancestors, they also try to ward away evil spirits by lighting bonfires and dressing up as demons and witches to avoid being recognized.

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