Can you believe Halloween is next week?! Whether you go all out and stock up on candy and costumes or whether it’s just another night for you, here are some interesting facts that you might not know about the spookiest night of the year.
Halloween has Celtic origins
It’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-ain), a time to mark the changing of the seasons, and also a time when the boundary between this world and the next is believed to be especially thin, allowing ghosts to return to earth.
What’s in a name?
Originally, the Celts celebrated their new year on November 1, and in the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated this day as a time to honour all saints, so it became All Saints’ Eve/Day - the day after this was known as All Souls’ Day. Halloween has also been known as All Hallows’ Eve, leading to the name it has today.
Costumes were used for hiding from ghosts
Probably not as varied and creative as Halloween costumes are nowadays, traditionally costumes were used as a way to hide from the spirits who returned during Halloween. When leaving their homes after dark, people would often wear masks so that the ghosts would think they were fellow spirits and would leave them be.
Trick-or-treating used to be ‘souling’
It’s thought to be quite likely that today’s trick-or-treating practice derives from what was called ‘souling.’ This was a way for the poorer people of society to ask for food in exchange for saying prayers for the home’s loved ones who had passed on. It is also believed that these people would also perform at the door for food, possibly the origins of busking too!
Jack-O-Lanterns were originally turnips
Although we don’t see them too much in New Zealand, Jack-O-Lanterns are named after a man known as ‘Stingy Jack’ who would constantly play tricks on the devil, who responded by forcing him to be stuck in purgatory with only a burning lump of coal from hell. Jack took the coal and made a lantern from a turnip to guide his lost soul. As turnips were hard to come by in the US, pumpkins were used as a substitute.
Although it’s all in good, spooky fun, Halloween is actually a fantastic time for spiritual renewal and transformation. It’s a time where our loved ones who have passed on can be remembered, and we can honor the cycles of death and rebirth.
Have a Happy Halloween everyone!