Did you know that the tradition of carving pumpkin for Halloween began in Ireland and Scotland with turnips? Read on and discover more about the rich history of this fun holiday.
Halloween traces its roots to an ancient Celtic harvest festival called Samhain (pronounced sow-in). It was believed that on October 31, the spirits of the dead returned to damage crops and scare the living.
By 800 AD, Christianity introduced Europe to All Saints Day, or “All Hallows,” which falls on November 1. Samhain began to be called “All Hallows’ Eve” and was later shortened to “Hallowe’en”.
Trick-or-treating and costumes
Trick-or-treating began in medieval England when poor people, often children, would go house-to-house on All Hallows’ Eve to collect sweet cakes, in return for praying for souls in purgatory. Later on, people started wearing masks and costumes to disguise themselves from angry spirits who were believed to return on All Hallows’ Eve to seek vengeance on their enemies.
Sweet, sweet candy
In America, Halloween candy sales equal about $2.4 billion each year, which is nearly a quarter of all candy sold annually. This translates to nearly 600 million pounds of delicious candy for trick-or-treaters. Kids have to keep a sharp eye out though, as 90% of parents admit to swiping goodies from their children’s Halloween haul.
With over 25 individual colors, M&M’s is the best selling candy in the US. But on Halloween, it places second to Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups as the most popular candy treat, with Snickers trailing at third. The least favorite Halloween sweets? Let’s just say plenty of kids are disappointed when they receive lollipops, hard candies, licorice, gum, and mints.
Superstitions and phobias
Why are black cats considered as harbingers of bad luck? We can blame Europeans from the Middle Ages. They believed that black cats were instruments of witches, or even witches themselves in disguise.
Breaking a mirror is believed to harm the soul living inside it, bringing a person unending bad luck until the person’s body is said to be renewed after seven years. The fear of the number 13, or triskaidekaphobia, is an enduring Christian superstition that is associated with the 13 dinner guests present during the Last Supper when Christ was betrayed.
Speaking of phobias, steer clear of otherworldly floating white sheets if you have phasmophobia, or fear of ghosts. Other Halloween-related phobias include wiccaphobia (fear of witches), coimetrophobia (fear of cemeteries), and kinemortophobia (fear of zombies). Of course, this season is extra tough if you suffer from samhainphobia, or fear of Halloween.
On your next Halloween party, scare up some great conversations with these terrifying trivia tidbits.