10 Halloween Fun Facts!

Happy Halloween everyone!  And a Blessed Samhain as well to those celebrating today!  I thought for today we would just take a quick look at a few Halloween history factoids to get you in the mood for a fun and festival harvest celebration.

 

1. Jack O’ Lanterns weren’t originally made from pumpkins.

They were first made from turnips, and in some cases potatoes, because in Ireland where the tradition originates as part of a tale about a man nicknamed Stingy Jack.  The turnips were hollowed out and coal embers placed inside to light the way of the wandering soul of a man to evil for either heaven or hell.

 

2. Trick or Treating comes loosely from a tradition known as Souling.

On October 31st in part of England poor people and children would go door to door begging for money or food in exchange for saying prayers for people’s beloved dead.  The food given was called a Soul Cake, a small baked cookie/cake would be eaten to symbolize the release of a loved one from Purgatory and was considered payment for the prayers offered.

 

3. Halloween wasn’t always called Halloween.

The name of the holiday of Halloween is actually somewhat of a bastardization of the Hallow’s Eve or Hallow’s Evening.  October 31st is the night before All Hallow’s or All Hallow’s Day {“hallows” means “holy”}, what would later be known as All Saints Day.  All Saints Day would be on November 1st and later All Souls Day on November 2nd.  This was part of the Church’s attempt to help integrate the Pagans of the land into the new Christian traditions of the Church by honoring their own dead at the same time as the Pagans held their celebration of Samhain, a time for honoring the end of the year and paying respects to the land and the dead.

 

4.  Bonfires were once known as “bone fires”.

At Samhain bonfires were lit by the Druid priests and others as offerings and sympathetic magic.  It was a way to ensure that the sun would return after a long winter season.  During these fires bones from sacrificed cattle would be added as further offerings, hence calling it a “bone fire” and later just becoming known as a “bonfire”.

 

5.  Costumes at Halloween have Celtic roots too.

The Celts would wear costumes, disguises, and masks on October 31st as a way to try and trick spirits.  It’s a night when they believed that the dead returned to travel among us and if there were people in the spirit world that may have reason to come back and do you harm on this night, it would be wise to wear a costume that would either make them think you were someone else, or something that would trick them into thinking you were one among them, just another spirit from the dead returning for a night.

 

6.  Samhain is also known as The Red Harvest.

There are a few different names that the holiday of Samhain goes by, but one that is often not used and that some people actively seem to avoid is “The Red Harvest”.  This is the final harvest among the agricultural people of Europe and is known as “the meat harvest” or “the blood harvest”, hence Red Harvest.   It was known as the culling time, when cattle herds were brought down from the higher hills where they grazed in the summer months and any among them that were either not likely to live out the winter or who wouldn’t be able to breed in the new season would be slaughtered for their meat, hides, and bones to help with winter survival.  Today we might sacrifice a drop of our own blood in rededication ceremonies or personal harvest rituals at this time of year in honor of the Red Harvest.

 

7.  Halloween was on hold for a while in America.

During WWI and WWII there were sugar rations going on which made the cost of candy quite high.  Trick or Treating also was put on the back burner because of the need for people to pitch in with work to help out with the war effort at home.  Things were big too serious in the “real world” and the fun of Halloween seemed out of touch with reality for many people.  Halloween made a big comeback in the 1950s and has been on the rise ever since to become a $3 billion a year industry in the US.

 

8.  Apple bobbing honors the Goddess Pomona.

Pomona is the Roman Goddess of fertility and apples.  She was honored as part of the combining of harvest celebrations as the Celts and Romans began to intermingle.  Apple bobbing is one of many evolving traditions that stemmed from honoring her.  A form of divination was used with this practice among the unmarried people in a village.  Apples were floated in water and all the unmarried people would take turns trying to bite and apple from the water.  The first to catch one was believed to be the next to get married.

 

9.  Witches weren’t really flying on brooms but they were riding them.

The idea of witches flying across the sky on brooms comes from a misunderstanding of a harvest blessing tradition that was practiced in parts of Europe.  Young women would straddle besoms and run across the tilled fields after the last harvest and jump as high as they could in an act of sympathetic magic.  It was their way of trying to encourage the earth to grow crops high in the coming year.  Apparently people would see this and thought it was the witches they heard tales about, who were either said to be old hags or very young women, flying on their brooms in the night sky.

 

10.  Halloween took a while to catch on in America.

It’s often thought that Halloween is an American tradition but it really came here with the European immigrants during the 1800s.  When it did, it didn’t catch on at first.   In fact most people look toward New England, many because of Salem, MA and assume this is where Halloween got its big start.  This is actually one of the last places where the holiday took hold because the people living there who came from England were trying to stay away from anything with religious ties to Europe and Halloween was very Pagan in nature.   Halloween was quite popular in the southern colonies in the beginning but later did spread around the country and took hold everywhere.

 

 

What are you doing for Halloween?
What are you doing for Samhain?

This year for Samhain I’m working on a small but important rededication ritual.  If you really want to add a little fire and boost to a rededication to the Gods and your magical power, {safely} draw a drop or two of blood from your left hand’s ring finger and use it to anoint the wick of a white candle carved with your name and astrological information {you can anointed with oils and herbs too, either specifically for dedication or use ones associated with your astrological sign}.  Charge the candle as a living embodiment of your dedication to your path and work and when you light it know you are sacrificing a bit of yourself to the flame that burns within and lights your way on your path.

 

Did you get my Celebrating Samhain eKit yet?  It comes with an ebook and MP3 guided meditation for celebrating this special holiday.  Check it out here!

 

And I also have a cool freebie for Samhain, in case you missed it.  A mini-ebook with my personal crystal grid for enhancing connections with your ancestors and spirits during Samhain {but honestly it can be used all year long but it’s a great thing to start at Samhain}.  Click the book to find out more and get your copy!

 

grid cover

 

Have a SAFE and Happy Halloween and Blessed Samhain!

 

 

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