Spread the love
Now, let teach your kids the roots of this ancient, worldwide tradition with these fascinating Halloween facts.
- Trick or treating comes from the medieval Christian tradition of souling. On All Hallows day (November 1) the poor would go door to door, offering prayers for the dead in exchange for food – namely soul cakes.
- Halloween can be traced back roughly 2000 years to the pre-Christian Celtic festival, Samhain. Pronounced “sah-win” , the word means “summer’s end” in Gaelic.
- Samhain was also a time where spirits of the dead were believed to be crossing over into the next world. The Celts would dress up as ghouls so that the real spirits wandering the streets wouldn’t notice them.
- The jack-o’-lantern is not just symbolic of a guy called Jack who tricked the devil. This Halloween mainstay represents an ‘ignis fatuus’ (foolish fire) or will-o-the-wisp. English and European folklore describe it as a ghost light that appears to travelers at night to draw them away from the safe paths.
- Trick or treating didn’t start in the US until after World War II, but the practice can be traced back to the Middle Ages. In both the British Isles and German and French carnival customs it was called ‘mumming’ or ‘guising‘. Mummers would dress in disguise, going door to door to perform in exchange for food or currency.
- In China, Halloween is celebrated as Teng Chieh or Lantern Festival. Lanterns in the shape of dragons and animals are lit to guide the spirits of those who have died back to their earthly homes. Families also put food and water before portraits of their dead relatives in welcome.
- In Mexico, Halloween is celebrated as ‘Día de los Muertos,’ or Day of the Dead. This day is also celebrated by much of the Hispanic world as a time to pray for and remember family and friends who have died. They also dress as ghouls, taking to the streets to parade and celebrate.
- We all know that while a vampire bite is a bad news, the blood of a vampire can heal almost anything. But did you know that the origins of this idea are not far from the truth? While the famed vampire bat may not make a habit of biting humans, its saliva contains an anti-clotting agent that has been used as a treatment for blood clots in humans.
- Did you know that Count Dracula was named after a real person? He may not have literally bitten into people’s necks, but Vlad the Impaler was famous for his bloodthirsty nature. Apparently, after taking the throne, Vlad invited his enemies to a banquet, whereby he had them stabbed, their bodies impaled on spikes and continued to calmly eat his dinner amid the corpses. Ew.
- Pagan Celts saw the cauldron as a symbol of the Earth mother’s womb. The souls of the dead would reside there, waiting to be reborn. Our idea of the witch stirring the cauldron actually began as this goddess. Her stirring allowed new souls to enter and old souls to be reborn.
- Our Halloween image of the witch on her broomstick has her origins in the Pagan goddess known as the Crone or Earth Mother. She is the old woman who symbolized wisdom, transition and the changing of the seasons.The witch’s broomstick has its roots in Medieval myths. Old women of the time were often poor and couldn’t afford horses. The would, therefore, have to travel on foot, using a stick, or broom for support. Later these women were assumed to be witches, and their broomstick came with them.
- Did you know that fear of the number 13 is called Triskaidekaphobia? Say that 13 times, fast!
Thank for reading!