Spooktacular Halloween history

Some might say 2020 has been scary enough but those people clearly aren’t creeping it real and preparing for a fang-tastic Halloween on 31 October.

So, get into the spirit (see what we did there?) for the scariest night of the year with our historical guide to the horrors of Halloween.

A scare is born

Halloween started out as a Celtic festival known as Samhain (pronounced ‘sow-in’, which means ‘summer’s end’). This marked the end of the harvest and the coming of the darkness.

The Celts believed that this time of year was accompanied by weird creatures with strange powers roaming around. To remedy this, they did what any self-respecting group of people would do and held a massive party. The aim was to scare away any ghosts and spirits… seems a valid reason to have a party.

When Christianity began to spread around Europe, the day became known as All Hallows’ Eve – the day before All Saints’ Day on 1 November.

Hallow, is it me you’re looking for?

When Irish immigrants began arriving in the US, Halloween took off in popularity. In fact, most of the popular traditions we take part in today can be linked back to the 19th century.

For instance, pumpkin carving – or making ‘Jack-o-lanterns’ – came about because settlers were accustomed to making lanterns out of turnips to scare off evil spirits. When Irish settlers got to America, turnips weren’t as abundant – how disappointed they must’ve been – but there were loads of pumpkins.

Hence, the giant orange Jack-o-lanterns with petrifying faces we see today.

Trick or treat yo’self

The history of trick or treating is much more debateable. Some people think this also started with the Celts, who tried to appease visiting ghosts by offering them nice food. Others believe trick or treating comes from when children would go from house to house singing for ‘soul cakes.’

Whatever the history of trick or treating, what’s really important this year is your safety. So, please follow local guidelines before making plans. And remember, if you’ve got it, haunt it.

Photo by David Menidrey on Unsplash