What do you truly know about Halloween? Most likely, not as much as you think. I recently learned much more than I previously knew and now I’m sharing it with you.

It is believed the holiday originated in Ireland from the ancient Gaelic Festival “Samhain,” pronounced Sow-in which marked the end of the harvest season and the start of winter. During Samhain, people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off evil spirits. It is actually more Irish than St. Patricks Day.

Immigrants from Ireland and Scotland brought Halloween to the United States in the 1800s. Haitian and African immigrants brought voodoo beliefs about black cats, fire, and witchcraft.  America’s first incarnation of Halloween were called “Play Parties.” Public gatherings where people would dance, sing and tell stories of the dead.

The tradition of trick-or-treating originated in England where poor children would ask for “Soul Cakes” in return for singing or saying prayers for the dead. Eating one is said to release a soul from purgatory. Eventually, others took on the tradition and gifts began consisting of money food and ale.

Some of the first types of costumes consisted of animal heads and skins. Dressing up as ghouls and other spooks originated from the ancient Celtic tradition of townspeople disguising themselves as demons and spirits. The Celts believed that disguising themselves this way would allow them to escape the notice of the real spirits wandering the streets during Samhain.

When trick-or-treating became popular in the United States in the 1800’s, more children played mischievous pranks than asked for candy. By the 1950’s it had switched to good old-fashioned family fun with sugar hyped children dressed in costumes.

In parts of England, children carry lanterns called punkies (which look like jack-o’-lanterns) and parade through the town on the last Thursday of October. In Ireland, rural neighborhoods light bonfires, and children play snap apple, in which they try to take a bite from apples that are hung by strings from a tree or a door frame.

Jack-o-Lanterns started an Irish legend, referring to the story of “Stingy Jack” who after death wasn’t let into Heaven or Hell and had to roam the earth with a lantern carved out of a turnip. Jack-o-Lanterns were originally carved out of potatoes, turnips and beets.

The word “witch” comes from the Old English wicce, meaning “wise woman.” In fact, wiccan were highly respected people at one time. According to popular belief, witches held one of their two main meetings, or sabbats, on Halloween night.

The owl is a popular Halloween image. In Medieval Europe, owls were thought to be witches, and to hear an owl’s call meant someone was about to die.

In many countries, such as France and Australia, Halloween is seen as an unwanted and overly commercial American influence.

All interesting facts I didn’t know. Did you?

Happy Halloween My Friends



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