Halloween Trivia – Why do we do what we do?
The word Halloween comes from ALL Hallows’ Eve, a Christian celebration that takes place the night before All Saints’ Day. The holiday has ancient pagan roots, and today it’s also a high holy day for Wicca, the nature-oriented and ancient religion dominated by white witches.
The ancient Celtic end of summer harvest festival called Samhain took place on November 1st. It was believed that on this day, the world of the gods would be visible to humans. Since this was a time when the souls of the dead were believed to visit homes and leave messages in dreams, many fortune tellers felt that it was the best time to predict future events.
Leaving food out for the dead came about because ancient people felt that ghosts might be hungry after a year of being deprived, but if they were given food, the spirits would leave everyone alone… and TRICK or TREAT was born.
Dunking for apples wasn’t just a game. It was a ritual of good fortune. The more apples you could get, the better your luck would be during the following year. If a maiden was able to snag an apple, she was sure to be married within a year.
Bonfires were set in the hopes that the sun would come out and stay for longer periods of time so that the harvest would yield more crops. The bonfires also attracted mosquitos, which in turn attracted owls and bats – who were therefore incorporated in the whole of All Hallow’s Eve mythology. And the lighting of bonfires was also a way to ward off evil spirits. They were also supposed to encourage fairies to come out of the mounds and walk among us and some people believe that’s why we dress up to become something we’re not. Costumes and masks were believed to confuse or frighten away evil spirits.
The Irish and Scottish are responsible for the tradition of carving Jack-o-lanterns, which was part of their harvest celebration. Originally they carved faces in turnips and potatoes, but when they emigrated to America, they began carving pumpkins as well. The lighting of a candle in the jack-o-lantern is the same as the Druids lighting fires, it also showed the souls of the departed where to go, and was a protection against evil spirits.
Halloween was believed to be the easiest time to contact the dead because the veil was supposedly at its thinnest. BOO! Happy Halloween!