October 29th, 2017
Of all the celebrated holidays, Halloween is truly the oddest. Despite its spooky reputation, it has also inspired millions of people to dress up in quirky costumes, binge on candy, and scare themselves for fun. That being said, these bizarre traditions and practices can’t hold a candle to the truly strange origins of Hallow’s Eve. Check out these fascinating facts about Halloween that are sure to amaze your kids.
More Celtic Than A Druid
Halloween traces part of its root to Samhain (pronounced SAH-win), an important Gaelic festival that marked the end of the harvest. Pagans also believed that Samhain made it easier for spirits and fairies to cross into our world and vice versa. It’s probably where Halloween gets its ghostly reputation from.
A Clever Disguise
Dressing up is oodles of fun! But way back, people didn’t put on costumes just for laughs. Silly Halloween costumes got their start as a Samhain practice of disguising oneself as a spirit. It was believed that this way you could fool them into thinking you were one of them, and they wouldn’t care to bother you.
What’s In A Name?
There’s more to the etymology of Halloween than you think. Halloween – or more accurately, Hallowe’en – is a contraction of All Hallows’ Evening. With hallow being an old word for saint, Hallowe’en actually means All Saints’ Evening. Not so scary now eh? This is no odd contradiction. Coincidentally, Samhain coincided with the Christian Hallowmas, the triduum dedicated to the remembrance of the dead. Rather than alienate the pagans they were trying to convert, the Church decided to merge events like Smahain with their own and adopt their practices (you catch more flies with honey after all), creating Hallowe’en as we know it today.
Cakes Over Candy?
It’s widely believed that trick-or-treating evolved from the medieval custom of “souling”. It was a practice of giving out cakes to poor people who came knocking during Hallowmas. In exchange, they would help pray for the home owner’s deceased family.
The Forgotten Turnip
We all know the pumpkin to be the quintessential Halloween icon, but the Jack o’ Lantern was originally a turnip! The origins of the Jack o’ Lantern come from a Celtic folk tale of a wily man named Jack who was clever enough to trick the Devil into promising never to claim his soul. So, when Jack died, he was made to roam the earth at night with only a burning coal to light his way. The story claims Jack put the piece of coal into a carved-out turnip to make a lantern. However, when this tradition made its way to America, pumpkins were used instead as it was more commonly available than turnips.
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