Updated on October 23rd, 2018
Happy Halloween! The ‘month of the dead’ has begun with All Saints and All Souls Day but what is the history behind these spooky dates?
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Tucked between the cold nights of winter and the falling leaves of autumn we have Halloween – a time of celebration and superstition.
But where did the spooky day come from and why do we celebrate it? Traditionally known as All Hallows’ Evening, Halloween falls on October 31. Halloween is always the eve of Christian festival All Saints’ Day on November 1. This spooky celebration is observed every year in a number of countries around the world.
Why do we celebrate Halloween?
Dating back to European traditions, Halloween originated from the ancient Gaelic Festival, Samhain. It was a day to celebrate the end of the harvest season – it means “summer’s end”.
Historically Gaels thought the walls between the spiritual realm and our world was thin. They feared the crops would be damaged, so they would set up places at their dinner tables for the spirits and light bonfires to scare off evil spirits.
Trick or treating and dressing up came from 16th Century Ireland, Scotland and Wales. People would ask for food in exchange for a poem or song. People dressed up in scary costumes and impersonated the souls of the dead to protect themselves.
Why do we celebrate it?
Halloween became commercialised over time from the influences of pop culture and is celebrated by both children and adults, whether they are going to parties or carving pumpkins.
Trick or treating was coined by the Americans and they evolved the British tradition of “souling” or “guising” to the main event for children we know it as today.
10 Halloween facts to spook you out.
1. Dress up and scare off the evil spirits
2. Jack O’Lanterns were originally made from turnips
3. Halloween decoration or a real live body – people have made mistakes
4. If you bite into a Halloween cake and hit a thimble, you’ll be unlucky in love
5. ‘Punkie Night’ – Somerset’s own deeply creepy Halloween celebration
6. Michael Myers’ mask in the movie Halloween was the face of William Shatner
7. If you’re in Germany on Halloween, hide the knives
8. If you’re in Italy, you can enjoy the Beans of the Dead
9. Chances are, if your trick-or-treat sweets have been poisoned, a family member did it
10. Urban myths come from somewhere – probably your home town
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