Where do the traditions behind Halloween come from

Where does Halloween originate ?

Halloween started off as a festival called ‘Samhain’, meaning summer’s end, and was celebrated by the Celts on November 1. It was believed that on this day, the veil between the dead and the living was at its thinnest.

Halloween grew in popularity in areas with Celtic heritage like Scotland where there was a romance attached to the many eerie stories of the holiday

What does Halloween mean?

The name Halloween (originally spelled Hallowe’en) is a concoction of All Hallows Even, which is the day before All Hallows Day which is also known  as all Saints day, a Catholic holiday commemorating Christian saints and martyrs observed since the early Middle Ages on November 1.

Why do we Trick or Treat?

An extra place was set at the table during Samhain to serve as an offering to deceased loved ones. In addition, food was placed outside, near the doorway, to appease bothersome spirits who might otherwise play a trick on the inhabitants, such as tipping over containers of milk. Today’s trick-or-treating dates to the Middle Ages, when poor people collected baked goods called “soul cakes” from the wealthy. In exchange for cakes, the poor promised to pray for the giver’s deceased loved ones.

What’s the deal with the pumpkins?

Before the modern pumpkin jack-o’-lantern, turnip lanterns were used. In ancient Ireland, revelers would hollow out large turnips (or potatoes or beets) and carve them into a demon’s face to frighten away spirits. They would light the turnips from within with a candle or a piece of smoldering coal. They then placed the lanterns in the windows and doorways of their homes, in the belief that the carvings would scare off evil spirits and welcome deceased loved ones inside.

Irish immigrants arriving in the New World during the early 1800s found the plentiful, easier-to-carve pumpkins ready substitutes for turnips.

Why do we bob for apples?

Have you ever bobbed for apples? The Roman festival for Pomona, the goddess of fruit and orchards, was celebrated around November 1. Romans believed that the first person to catch a bobbing apple with his or her teeth would be the first to marry in the new year.

They also believed that apple peels held the secret to true love. The lovelorn would peel an apple in one long, unbroken piece and throw it over his or her shoulder while being spun around. The shape of the peel on the ground represented the first initial of the peeler’s true love.

Why are witches synonymous with Halloween

In the Middle Ages, women labeled as witches (from the Anglo-Saxon word wicce, or “wise one”) practiced divination. Such a woman would curl up near a fireplace and go into a trancelike state by chanting, meditating, or using hallucinogenic herbs. Superstitious people believed that these women flew out of their chimneys on broomsticks and terrorized the countryside with their magical deeds.

What are your Halloween traditions, we’d love to know…

Halloween