It has evolved greatly over the centuries and in the present time it’s occasion kids wait to fill their appetites and pretend to be a character. Adults love this event because of how it unites people and just gives them another chance to guzzle down party booze.
However, it is essential to know the roots of the event; to be aware of the truest form of Halloween. To celebrate the Holiday’s spirit, let’s explore fun facts about it and learn how it all started.
1. Halloween is inspired by the Celtic festival of Samhain and the Roman festivals of Feralia and Pomona
The traditional festival of food and fun today was initiated by The Celts. For them, the new year was marked on November 1 and the end of the year was believed to be a time of deaths. October 31 was not only the night before the new year started but also the last day of summer. It was believed that on this day, the lines between the world of the living and the world of the dead became hazy.
So, on October 31, The Celts celebrated Samhain, a festival that was based on their belief that on this day, ghosts visited the living. The people blamed the damage that was caused to their crops on these spirits. They also thought that these spirits helped the Druids tell prophecies.
The traditions surrounding Samhain involved dressing up in costumes and lighting up bonfires. The costumes were worn to scare off the dead so that they couldn’t harm the living. The Celts would also offer sacrifices to their deities in the form of crops and animals and attempt to predict each other’s destinies.
Next, come the Romans who celebrated two festive events that were a combination of Samhain. The first festival they celebrated was Feralia, a day reserved in the later part of the month of October. On this day, the people who had passed were remembered.
The second day, Pomona was honored. Pomona was the Roman goddess of fruits and trees. Her symbol was an apple. The tradition of bobbing for apples that are followed till today is linked to this event.
2. Trick-or-treating didn’t come until later in the 1950’s
So, if neither the Romans nor the Celts had any tricking or treating practices, when and how did this tradition come into being? It all started with youngsters playing pranks. So, initially, there was a lot of tricking happening while the treating part came later on.
In the middle of the twentieth century, the tricksters would promise not to trouble homeowners provided they got a treat in exchange. Then, after WWI, costumed beggars and kids were given cheap candy. This is how the custom of trick-or-treating was birthed.
3. Instead of pumpkins, turnips were carved out for keeping evil spirits away
The trick-or-treat custom also originated from the Catholics. Same goes for the carving out of Jack O’ Lanterns. In the seventeenth century, British people would use turnips for serving the purpose. Turnips would be opened up, their insides would be scooped out and spooky faces would be carved on them. Then a lit candle would be placed inside them and they’d be called turnip lanterns.
On November 1 and 2, All Saints Day and All Souls Day, children would carry these lit turnip lanterns from house to house and beg for food for commemorating the dead. In the nineteenth century, the Irish people started to make Jack O’ Lanterns using pumpkins.
The change in tradition caught on because carving out pumpkins was easier compared to carving faces on turnips. But why did the tradition of carrying pumpkins begin in the first place? An Irish folk tale dictated that Jack O’ Lantern was a dead man wandering among the living.
According to the ancient story, Jack spent his entire life playing tricks on the devil. When he died, he was not taken up to hell; he was left on Earth to wander all alone. The devil only handed him a coal from hell, which he used to light up his lantern and guide his lost soul.
The tradition of lighting pumpkins was followed to keep the naughty spirits like that of Jack away. However, today, these pumpkin lanterns are only used for fun and decorations. If you wish to get them for decorating your home, don’t forget to use discount codes for Halloween decorations.
4. The colors and symbols associated with Halloween have meaning behind them too
Orange and black are linked with Halloween not only because their combo looks good together. Orange symbolized the time of harvest whereas black represented death at the end of summer. Together these two colors gained popularity based on the Samhain festival of the Celts.
About the symbols, such as bats, black cats, and spiders, these three are associated with the Wiccans. They were also thought to be accompanied by bad luck. The bats are even more tied to the event as the bonfires lit by the Celts attracted bats.
There are several stories behind Halloween that morphed together into the Halloween that we celebrate today. Which one of these fun facts about the history of Halloween do you find the spookiest? Tell us in the comments.