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Halloween Fun Facts

1. Halloween, or All Hallows' Eve, can be traced back about 2,000 years to a pre-Christian Celtic festival held around November 1 called Samhain (pronounced "sah-win") or "summer's end" in Gaelic.


2. Dressing up in costumes was once a way to hide from ghosts. The tradition started as a way for the Celtic and other European people to hide from the spirits who returned at this time of year. People wore masks when they left their homes after dark so the ghosts would think they were fellow spirits. To keep the ghosts out of their houses, people would place bowls of food outside to make them happy.

3. Jack-o-lanterns were originally carved into turnips. In a traditional Celtic story, a man named Jack tricked the Devil, so after Jack died, the Devil made him roam the night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the piece of coal in a carved-out turnip, a common vegetable then, and thus it became known as Jack of the Lantern. Irish and Scottish people would carve their own versions of Jack's lantern with scary faces and place them near windows or doors to frighten away Jack or other evil spirits. When immigrants brought the tradition to America, the native pumpkin was more available than turnips, giving rise to today's jack-o-lanterns.

4. Trick-or-treating likely evolved from the medieval custom of "souling" in England. On All Souls' Day celebrations during November 2, poor people would knock on doors asking for food in exchange for saying prayers for the home's dead relatives.

5. Cats have been part of the history of Halloween for centuries. During Samhain, priests used cats as part of a ritual to try to predict the future.

6. The "bon" in bonfire is a reference to bones. During Samhain, priests lit large fires to represent the sun returning after the hard winter. They would throw the bones of cattle into the flames, creating a "bone fire".

7. Black and orange are the traditional colors used for Halloween decorations. Orange is seen throughout autumn's changing leaves and is a symbol of strength and endurance, while black is typically the color of death. The Celtics may have been the first people to use this color combination to gain strength for the long winter ahead and celebrate the dead during the Samhain holiday.

Adapted from "8 Fun Facts About the History of Halloween", https://www.parents.com/holiday/halloween/traditions/fun-facts-about-the-history-of-halloween, accessed September 14, 2018.


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Last modified on Friday, 28 September 2018 21:07


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