Halloween is absolutely my favorite holiday! I love the spooky movies, the fun costumes, and the tasty treats. It's the one time of the year you can be anyone or anything you wish to be. Not only do I find Halloween interesting, but I find the background of the traditions that we participate in even more interesting!
The word Halloween derives from two separate meanings. "Hallow" meaning "holy person", referring to the saints celebrated on All Saints' Day, which is on November 1st, and "een" meaning "eve" or evening before. So basically, Halloween or All Hallows Eve means All Saints' Day Eve or the evening before All Saints' Day.
Halloween itself is linked to the Celtic Festival known as Samhain. This festival celebrated the end of the summer and the end of the harvesting season in Ireland and Scotland. According to the Celtic mythology, at this particular time of the year, the veil between the "otherworld", that held spirits of the dead, and our world thins, making it possible for spirits and the souls of the dead to come through the veil and into our world.
2. Bobbing for ApplesGiphy
The origin for bobbing for apples originally came from an old courting tradition from a Roman festival honoring Pomona, the goddess of agriculture. This party game actually used to be considered as a form of divination. Men would dunk their heads into a bucket of water, trying desperately to catch a piece of floating fruit in an attempt to figure out who their future spouse would be. Women would mark apples before putting them in the bucket and men would bob them out. The thought was that the woman who marked the apple would then forever be destined to be with the man who caught it. So the next time you're sticking your head in a bucket to catch an apple, remember, you might be bobbing for your future spouse!
Even though costumes are now used as a way to force your child to dress as that cute (but honestly horrifying) clown or your best opportunity to dress as the newest (and even more horrifying) provocative cartoon character (that totally ruins your childhood), costumes used to be known as the best way to avoid being terrorized by the spirits that passed through the veil on Samhain. This was their way of faking out the ghosts and hopefully, be mistaken as one themselves.
4. Carving PumpkinsGiphy
The tradition of carving pumpkins, or Jack-O-Lanterns, originated in Ireland. However, it was first an activity done with turnips instead of pumpkins! The concept behind this craft and spooky tradition is based on an old legend about a man named Stingy Jack.
Stingy Jack was a terrible, mischief, old drunk who played horrible tricks on everyone he came in contact with, even the Devil. One day, he tricked the Devil and trapped him in a tree where he forced the Devil to promise not to take his soul. Many years later, when Stingy Jack died, he found out that not only would the Devil not take his soul because of the promise he made, but Heaven wouldn't take him either because of how horrible and mean he had been. Now he had nowhere to go except to wander around the dark world between Heaven and Hell. He asked the Devil, his old friend, how he could leave without being able to see because there was no light. The Devil gave him an ember and Stingy Jack put the ember in a turnip that he had with him (it was his favorite food, so he always had one with him). From that day on, Stingy Jack roamed the earth, lighting the was with his "Jack-O-Lantern".
On All Hallows Eve, the Irish carved out turnips and placed a light in them to ward off evil spirits and keep Stingy Jack away.
Regardless of where this tradition comes from, let's be honest, nobody is going to deny the opportunity to get free candy! However, there is lots of debate about where the tradition of trick-or-treating came from.
The first theory suggests that it came from the Celtic's. During Samhain people would leave food out to appease the souls, ghosts, and spirits that crossed the veil and traveled the earth that night.
Another theory is that trick-or-treating sprouted from the Scottish practice of souling. In the Middle Ages, soulers would around to local homes and collect food, money, or treats in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls' Day.
Either way, tricker-treating is a fun tradition that it great for kids and adults alike.
Enjoy your spooky Halloween traditions!