A Short History: Halloween

Halloween – Yet Another Fun Irish Tradition

Halloween is based on the 5th century Gaelic festival of Samhain (sow-in). This festival marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the winter season when cattle were brought back from their summer pastures and livestock were slaughtered for the winter.

According to Celtic mythology the boundary between this world and the “Otherworld” thins during Samhain making it easier for spirits and souls of the dead to return. The Celts would make offerings of food and drink to ensure their families and livestock would make it through the winter.

Where do the Costumes Come From?

As part of the festival, people would go door-to-door in costume and “perform antics” or recite poetry in exchange for food.

And the Lit Up Pumpkins?

In the Irish myth of “Stingy Jack”,  Jack tricks the Devil into climbing a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While up there, Jack carved a cross into the tree’s bark, preventing the Devil from getting down. Jack made a bargain with the Devil, he’d let him down if the Devil promised not to claim his soul. Deal made, Jack spends his remaining years as a not so nice person. Because he was so nasty in life, upon his death God barred him from heaven. Keeping his end of the bargain, the Devil wouldn’t allow him into hell either. He did, however send Jack off into the night with a burning coal to light his way. Jack put this coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth ever since. The Irish referred to this ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern” or, simply, Jack O’Lantern.

There’s more than one legend around carved gourds though. Back to Ireland again where they built huge bonfires for the Samhain festival. These bonfires “attracted fairy spirits” who lurked in the fire’s shadows. In order to prevent the fairies from settling into houses and farms, people would carve faces into turnips, set candles inside and put them along roadways and next to gates.

Who Knew Bobbing for Apples Was So…Very….Meaningful?

Bobbing for apples has a curious origin: women would carve the names of local gentlemen on the apples and then “bobb” for the apples. The thinking was that they were destined to marry the person whose name was on the apple they were able to catch. Fancy…..

Thanks to History.com, Wikipedia and The Mirror for the assist in putting this together!

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Sharon Quataert