Halloween has its roots in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. During Samhain, people would dress up in costumes and light big bonfires to ward off evil spirits.
Nowadays, Halloween is celebrated with candy, costumes, and carving pumpkins.
But if you want to know more about this most spooky time of year, read on and discover 8 things you (probably) didn’t know about Halloween.
As mentioned above, back in the day during Samhain, people used to dress up in costume in the hope of warding off evil spirits.
But they didn’t have joke shops and costume shops as we do now.
Instead, their costumes were a little more, eh, shall we say, rudimental. They used to wrap themselves in animal hides and use the skulls and bones of dead animals to make masks and decorate their costumes.
I bet they were dead scary! Geddit?
1. Before it was known as a Bonfire it was called a Bone Fire
Sticking with the bone theme for a moment. Did you know that the ‘bon’ in bonfire is a reference to bones? The fires lit at Halloween were literally a fire of bones as animals were sacrificed and bones were burnt in the fire.
2. Bobbing for love
The Celts were a romantic bunch, by the sounds of things, and spent a lot of time wondering about the identity of their future spouses.
The Halloween game of bobbing for apples involves putting apples in a large basin of water. Players try to bite an apple all whilst their hands are tied behind their back.
If you bite an apple, you are supposed to put that apple under your pillow. It is said that you will dream of your future partner.
3. Finding out who would be next to marry on Halloween?
Another Halloween game with its origins in ancient Celtic traditions. This game involves hanging apples on a piece of string and tying them to a tree or from a height.
Players, with their hands tied behind their backs, must try and take a bite out of the apple. The first one to bite the apple will be the first one to marry, according to tradition/superstition.
Who knew Halloween was such a romantic holiday?
4. Barmbrack the Irish fruitcake that decided your fate
Another fortune-predicting food item. Barmbrack is a traditional Irish fruitcake which people eat on Halloween. Bakers would hide items inside the brack.
- If you found a ring inside your fruitcake you would get married.
- A coin would mean you are going to be wealthy.
- A stick in your cake would mean that you were going to have an unhappy marriage.
- A pea would mean that you wouldn’t marry that year.
- A thimble inside your cake would mean you were going to end up an old maid.
- If you cut into your cake and found a bit of a rag, then unlucky you, it means that you are going to be poor.
I think I’ll pass on that next slice of barmbrack.
5. All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day
Many Christians across the world celebrate All Saints’ Day on November 1st, the day after Halloween.
This also stems from ancient Celtic beliefs that at Halloween the boundaries between the living and unloving realms were weak and spirits could cross over.
All Saints’ Day honours the lives of saints who died for their religious beliefs.
All Souls’ Day takes place on November 2nd of each year. This is the day that people pray for the souls of those stuck in Purgatory. The souls in Purgatory are undergoing purification before entering heaven.
6. Trick or treat and it’s origins throughout history
Popularised in the 1920s in North America, children disguised in costume would go door to door and threaten to pull pranks on people if they didn’t give them treats.
This tradition of going door to door at Halloween also happens in the Philippines. Here it is called Pangangaluluwa(try to say that three times!).
This involves children in costume going door to door and singing in the hope of receiving prayers for those stuck in purgatory.
Originally, trick or treating began as ‘souling’ back in the 15th century.
People would put on costumes and go from home to home offering songs for the dead. In return, the singers would receive cakes, known as ‘soul cakes’.
Did you know about this Halloween fact? Comment below
7. Samhainophobia – The “fear of Halloween”
Not everybody is a fan of Halloween. In fact, loads of people around the world have a fear of Halloween. The technical term for the fear of Halloween or the fear of the festival of the dead is Samhainophobia.
The origins of the word should be quite obvious if you have been reading this article from the top. ‘Samhain’ is the ancient Celtic tradition celebrated on October 31st. The word ‘Samhain’ means summer’s end.
8. Halloween Omens to watch out for every year
No, not the horror movie with the creepy kid, omens, those things regarded as something that foretell good or bad luck. There are plenty of superstitions and omens that accompany Halloween.
- If you see a spider on Halloween is it good luck, no, honestly, it is. It means that the spirit of a dead loved one is watching over you.
- If you see a bat on Halloween it is a sign that there are ghosts nearby! Get your Proton Pack ready!
- Worried about evil spirits entering your home? Here’s what to do. Walk around your house three times backwards and counterclockwise before sunset on Halloween. This will ward off any bad spirits. Just don’t do it after a few drinks haha!
Which of these Halloween facts was your favourite?
As you can see, there are plenty of weird and wonderful traditions, customs, myths and legends surrounding Halloween.
We tried to uncover at least 8 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Halloween.
How did we do? Did you learn anything new or do you already know everything there is to know about Halloween?
Thanks for reading,
P.S There is a whole history on the relationship between Ireland and Halloween which you can read on our previous post.
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