Some people in the UK hate Halloween. Some say it is nothing more than an imported American idea that encourages kids to go around annoying people and begging for treats, while others refuse outright to let their kids go out on Halloween night because they say it is a celebration of a pagan festival. The truth is that both these camps are wrong. Halloween actually has its roots in an Irish festival, and it also has links to a Christian celebration. These days, Halloween is nothing more than a bit of fun for kids and adults alike, so here are ten little titbits of information about Halloween that may not have known.
1. Halloween began as a Celtic tradition
It all began around 2,000 years ago in Ireland with a festival known as Samhain. The ancient Celts believed that Halloween was the night that this world and the next came closer together to allow those that had departed during the year to cross over to the other side. Of course, if the two worlds overlapped on this night, then the dead could come back to life and haunt the living, hence the traditions of Halloween.
2. ‘Halloween’ is contraction of All Hallow’s Evening
If you have ever wondered where the word Halloween comes from, it is a shortening of the words ‘All Hallow’s Evening’, which means all saints evening. Halloween is the night before All Saints Day, a day for Christian remembrance of the dead, including the saints and martyrs.
The tradition of wearing masks on Halloween night goes right back to the earliest days of the celebration and it had nothing to do with trying to scare the pants of the neighbours. Because Halloween was the night that the spirits could walk the earth, people wore masks to fool the spirits into thinking that they too were ghosts.
4. Trick or treating was not an American invention
Although the modern tradition of trick or treating for candy is widely thought to be an American gift to those of us who would prefer a peaceful night in on 31st October, this is a tradition that has its roots in Europe. On All Souls Day, another name All Saints Day, or Halloween, poor people would knock on the doors of the wealthy and be given a piece of soul cake, which was a type of shortbread, in return for a promise to pray for the dead of that house.
5. Halloween is now, commercially, second only to Christmas
Halloween has become so popular that is now a multi-billion dollar business that comes second only to Christmas. In the United States, around 3 billion dollars are spent every year on costumes and the sales of candy skyrocket by another 2 billion dollars.
6. There is a medical name for the fear of Halloween
Some people don’t just dislike Halloween; they have a morbid fear of it. People who are seriously afraid of Halloween are said to be suffering from Samhainophobia. The name means a fear of Samhain, which is the ancient Celtic name for Halloween.
7. There are Roman traditions of Halloween too
Halloween is a festival that has taken traditions form many other different festivals including the Roman festival Pomona. This was a festival that celebrated the goddess of the harvest, Pomona, and that is why apples, nuts, and dates feature in the celebration with things like bobbing for apples.
The Jack O' lanterns carved out of pumpkins that we see today on Halloween night, would have originally been made of turnips or other root vegetables. They were placed in the windows of homes to scare away the evil spirits. The idea for using pumpkins, did originate in North America, but the original tradition started in Europe
9. They celebrate Halloween in china too
Many countries have a tradition similar to Halloween. In China, it is called The Lantern Festival, or Teng Chieh. In China on Halloween night, people hang lanterns outside their homes to help guide the spirits and they leave food and water out for their ancestors.
10. Michael Meyers mask in the 1978 movie “Halloween” was William Shatners face
OK. So this is not, strictly speaking, a Halloween fact, but it is interesting nonetheless. The scary mask that Michael Meyers wore in the 1978 movie “Halloween” was a cheap Star Trek Captain Kirk mask that had been painted. The movie was made with such a small budget, they had to buy the cheapest props they could find.
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