Every year, the majority of us celebrate Halloween, carving spooky faces out of pumpkins and donning our best fancy dress, but have you ever wondered where Halloween originates? To keep in the spirit of the season, I have decided to write a few facts about Halloween traditions.
- Ancient origins of Halloween:
The origins of Halloween date back to the Celtic era over 2000 years ago. To them, Halloween marked the end of the summer season and therefore the beginning of a dark and cold winter. It was also believed that on the night of October 31st the boundary between both the living and the dead became blurred, allowing ghosts of the dead to return to earth.
Jack-o’ -Lanterns are an Irish tradition dating back hundreds of years used with a candle to ward off evil spirits. They are based on the folktale of ‘Stingy Jack’ who was a miserable man who played cruel tricks on everyone around him, including the devil. Originally, people would carve faces out of turnips or beetroots, however, once the Jack-o’ -lantern made its way to America, the tradition switched to pumpkins because they were in larger quantities.
- Halloween matchmaking:
This is a tradition that many people may have forgotten or been completely unaware of. According to history, single women took part in rituals which would hopefully bring them marriage by the following Halloween.
In Ireland in the 18th century is was common for a cook to bury a ring in mashed potatoes in hope of bringing true love to whoever found it. Whereas in Scotland, women would name hazelnuts after potential suitors and toss them into a fire. Depending on whether they popped, burned or roasted, the idea was the prevailing name would be the woman’s betrothed.
- Fancy dress:
Dressing up for Halloween can also be traced back to the Celtic era. Due to the Celts believing Halloween blurred the line between the living and the dead, in turn, they would leave out food and drinks as a peace offering to the spirits, wear all white, and paint their faces in an attempt to camouflage themselves from evil beings.
Moving into the Victorian era, costumes became a lot more interesting. Due to the publishing of Jayne Eyre and Wuthering Heights, Gothic themes were extremely popular which was reflected in the costumes. Other popular costumes included bats, ghosts, Egyptian-inspired costumes which were all still homemade. Nowadays, fancy dress has become a multi-million-dollar industry, but it has been around for less that 100 years, corporations didn’t start manufacturing costumes until the 1920’s!
As it begins to get dark I hope you have your lit pumpkins at the ready and have a Spooktacular Halloween!
Have you got anymore facts about Halloween? I’d love to hear them, please leave a comment below.