Editorial

Is Halloween 2020 the scariest yet?

Women celebrating at a Halloween party
Calan Gaeaf: Halloween this year will be very different to how we would normally expect to celebrate. Source: Geoff Charles and National Library of Wales (via Wikimedia Commons)
With a global pandemic, and numerous disastrous events having taken place in 2020, it seems hard to imagine a scarier Halloween this year.

By Tirion Davies | Editor-in-Chief

This year has been anything but normal, I think we can all agree on that.

As we round the corner into Halloween, it seems hard to comprehend what could be scarier this Halloween than the year we’ve already faced.

From a year which started with devastating forest fires in Australia, and awful floods here in South Wales, to one where it was likely just a few months in that many of us would be fighting in a third World War, and now a global pandemic; what a year this has been.

A year ago, the world was a world away from what it is by now. Bars, pubs and clubs were overflowing on a Saturday night, a mask was just something medical professionals might need to wear, and a world in which you are unable to hug your loved ones seemed impossible.

As Wales enters another lockdown – albeit a shorter one this time, we hope – celebrating Halloween seems so far from anyone’s minds. Many have joked they’ll still dress up and celebrate in their living room over a bottle of wine, but the reality of the situation is that celebrations this year have had to change drastically.

We’ve already experienced a socially distanced Easter, and soon we’ll likely need to discover how Christmas may be when we can’t cuddle close with our family members or thank them in person for our gifts. For some families, blankets, coats and hats in the garden during the gift exchange will be as close as they can get.

Although Halloween isn’t the biggest tradition in the UK, it will still be odd for many students who are used to celebrating well into November 1.

The Celtic traditions of Halloween (Nos Calan Gaeaf in Wales) emphasise dressing as ghouls or ghosts to ward off evil, and being home by midnight for fear of the Hwch Ddu Gwta finding you (a tradition which includes a slaughtered sow during the festival supposedly rising from the flames to chase children home, and take the last child remaining).

Traditions of the Hwch Ddu Gwta seem particularly apt this year, in a nation with a curfew and a fear of catching COVID-19. Yet, as with general Celtic and Pagan Halloween traditions, Halloween is allegedly the period when the world and the afterlife intertwine, and in Wales, Calan Gaeaf has always been a period of bidding farewell to the departed, both living and dead, and paying homage to those we have lost.

It’s far removed from the traditional, Americanised Halloween many of us would now be used to, but for Wales, the holiday has always been about community, and coming together to celebrate life.

During the 9th century, when the first traditions of Calan Gaeaf emerged, few people would survive through the year, and so each year Calan Gaeaf in Wales was a time to celebrate the lives people get to continue to live, and to celebrate the lives of loved ones lost. In a way, this tradition is one we should follow this year.

It’s been a hard year, with countless losses, but though it’s hard, we should celebrate them and all they’ve done – they lived incredible lives, and we should remember that.

2020 has been nightmarish, to say the least. It can often feel as though it’s spiralled downhill, and it can feel incredibly easy to feel downhearted by the experiences we’ve had.

Yet, despite how terrifying the rest of the year may seem as we wait in anticipation to see what else may emerge, we should feel lucky that we’re here now, and that our families are safe.

This Halloween, we need to take care of one another, especially in this scary new world.


Mae’r flwyddyn hon wedi bod yn hollol wahanol i’r hyn yr oeddem yn disgwyl am 2020.

Wrth ein bod yn cyrraedd adeg Calan Gaeaf, mae’n anodd meddwl eleni am yr hyn sy’n fwy brawychus na’r flwyddyn yr ydym yn barod wedi’i wynebu.

Dechreuodd y flwyddyn gyda thân yn goedwig Awstralia a’r llifogydd yn Ne Cymru; o fewn misoedd o ddechrau’r flwyddyn, yr oedd yna peryg y bydd nifer ohonom yn gorfod bod yn rhan o Ryfel Byd arall, ac erbyn hyn yr ydym yn byw yng nghanol cyfnod o pandemig rhyngwladol. Am flwyddyn!

Blwyddyn yn ôl, yr oedd y byd yn hollol wahanol. Roedd tafarnau a bwytai yn orlawn gyda phobl yn yfed gormod a brwydro; roedd gwisgo orchudd wyneb ond yn cael ei wneud gan ddoctoriaid, ac oedd bywyd heb allu gafael yn aelodau teulu yn hollol anghredadwy.

Wrth fod Cymru’n dychwelyd i gyfnod clo cenedlaethol arall – gawn ni obeithio bydd yr un hon yn llai o amser na’r tro diwethaf – mae dathlu Calan Gaeaf yn teimlo mor bell o feddyliau unrhyw un. Ceir sôn gan rhai eu bod am wisgo ac eistedd yn y gegin gyda photel o win, ond mae’r traddodiadau mae nifer o fyfyrwyr fel arfer yn dilyn wedi newid o bell ffordd. Mae cyfnodau gwyliau wedi gorfod newid yn anferthol eleni.

Erbyn hyn, rydym wedi profi cyfnod y Pasg anarferol, ond yn fuan, bydd rhaid i ni, mae’n bosib, profi cyfnod Nadolig heb allu mwynhau gyda’r teulu tu mewn, na’u diolch am yr anrhegion yn bersonol. Mae’n debygol bydd cyfnod y Nadolig i nifer yn gynnwys cotiau, blancedi a hetiau yn yr ardd, yn gweld y teulu am yr unig dro am gyfnod arall.

Er nad yw Calan Gaeaf yn wyliau sy’n cael ei ddathlu’n fawr yn y Deyrnas Unedig, mae’n siŵr bydd hi’n anarferol o ddathliad i fyfyrwyr sydd fel arfer yn mwynhau i oriau mân Dachwedd 1.

Mae’r hen draddodiadau Celtaidd Calan Gaeaf yn cynnwys gwisgo fel ysbrydion i waredu ar ddrygioni, a bod adref erbyn canol nos rhag ofn bod yr Hwch Ddu Gwta yn eich dal.

Y traddodiad Hwch Ddu Gwta sy’n teimlo’r fwyaf priodol eleni, fel cenedl gyda hwyrgloch ac arswyd o ddal COVID-19. Ond, fel sy’n draddodiadol yn draddodiadau Celtaidd, mae Calan Gaeaf yn cael ei ystyried fel cyfnod pan bod y byd a’r byd farw yn cyfuno, ac mae Calan Gaeaf yng Nghymru yn gyfnod i ddweud hwyl fawr i’r rhai ein bod wedi colli eleni.

Er bod y traddodiadau yn wahanol i’r Calan Gaeaf Americanaidd mae nifer yn dathlu erbyn hyn, mae’r traddodiadau Cymraeg Calan Gaeaf gwastad wedi pwysleisio’r elfen o gymuned, a chyfuno i ddathlu bywyd.

Yn ystod y nawfed ganrif, pan welwyd y traddodiad Calan Gaeaf yn gyntaf, nid oedd nifer yn goroesi trwy’r gaeaf a trwy’r flwyddyn, ac felly oedd Nos Calan Gaeaf yn ddathliad enfawr o fywydau’r meirw, a bywydau’r rhai oedd dal yn fyw. Mewn ffordd, efallai dylen ni fod yn dilyn yr un fath o ddathliadau eleni?

Mae’r flwyddyn hon wedi bod hynod o anodd, gyda chymaint o farwolaethau. Ond, er bod hi’n anodd gwneud, dylen ni fod yn dathlu bywydau’r rhai sydd wedi’n gadael ni eleni; roeddynt wedi byw bywydau anhygoel, ac mae’n rhaid atgoffa ein hunain o hynny.

Mae 2020 wedi bod yn hunllefus, mae’n rhaid sôn. Yn aml, mae’n teimlo’n hawdd fod yn dorgalonus o’r hyn yr ydym wedi wynebu eleni.

Ond, er ein bod yn poeni am ddyfodol gweddill 2020, mae’n rhaid i ni deimlo’n lwcus ein bod yma nawr, a bod ein teuluoedd yn ddiogel.

Calan Gaeaf yma, mae’n rhaid edrych ar ôl ein gilydd – mae 2020 yn fyd brawychus.

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