It’s the spookiest time of the year! The mornings have gotten so much darker and are often accompanied by layers of eerie fog, rainy days are creeping in and Halloween is less than 48 hours away. If you’re a fan of all things that go bump in the night, then this week’s blog is definitely for you.
We’re going to share some fiendish facts and terrifying trivia about our favourite time of the year – Halloween! Even though we’re far too old for trick or treating and our kids no longer want to be seen with their mothers dressed as witches, we can still embrace the spirit of the season and pick up some trivia for the next pub quiz.
- Halloween is thought to have originated around 4000 BC – at least 6000 years ago! This makes it one of the oldest holidays still celebrated.
- The origins of the holiday are said to start with the Roman harvest festival ‘Pomona‘. Many Halloween games such as ‘bobbing for apples’ originate from this period.
- Halloween is also heavily influenced by the pre-Christian Celtic festival of Samhain. Traditionally held around the first of November, the feast celebrated the last day of harvest and the time when the veil between the living and the dead was at its thinnest.
- During Samhain bonfires were lit to ensure the sun would return after the long, hard winter. Often Druid priests would throw the bones of cattle into the flames, hence “bone fire” became the origin of “bonfire”.
- In the United Kingdom, Ireland and Northern France, people wore costumes to trick the spirits they believed roamed the streets during Samhain and put out treats and food to placate them. Some believe this is the origin of trick or treating.
- According to Irish legend, Jack O’Lanterns are named after a mean man named Jack who tricked the devil several times and was forbidden entrance into heaven or hell as a result. He was instead condemned to wander the Earth and wave his lantern to lead people away from their paths and into danger.
- Tradition states that if a person wears his or her clothes inside out and then walks backwards on Halloween, he or she will see a witch at midnight
- During the 18th century, single ladies devised Halloween traditions that were supposed to help them find their future husband. Women used to throw apple peels over their shoulder, hoping to see their future husband’s initials in the pattern when they landed. When they bobbed for apples at parties, the winner would supposedly marry first. Most spookily, they even used to stand in a dark room, holding a candle in front of a mirror to look for their future husband’s face to appear in the glass.
- Halloween is an extremely popular holiday in the USA thanks to Ireland. When the Irish fled their country in the 1840s due to the potato famine, they brought their Halloween traditions with them. In Ireland, Jack ‘o lanterns used to be carved out of turnips or beets. It was only when the holiday became popular in America that they were replaced with pumpkins.
- The famous magician, illusionist and entertainer, Harry Houdini, died on Halloween 1926 from a ruptured appendix. However, as befits a man of mystery, contradicting reports of his demise did surface at the time. Some say a band of angry Spiritualists poisoned him, others that it was a student punching him in the stomach (with his permission) that caused his appendix to burst.
- In Mexico, The Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, takes place October 31 through November 2. The original Aztec celebration actually lasted a month long, but when Spanish conquistadors came over to Mexico in the 16th century, they merged the festival with the Catholic All Saints’ Day. Today’s celebration is a mix of both Aztec rituals of skulls, altars to the dead and food with Catholic masses and prayers.
- In Germany it’s traditional for people to hide their knives on Halloween to prevent returning spirits from getting injured.
- In the USA in the early 1900’s, people used to send each other Halloween cards.
- The fear of Halloween is referred to as Samhainophobia.
- On Halloween, silly string is banned in Hollywood. Anyone caught with it faces a $1000 fine.
- It is believed by some that if a child is born on Halloween then they will be able to communicate with the dead and talk to spirits.
- The hour between 3am and 4am is known as ‘The Witching Hour’ and is said to be the time of day when supernatural activity is at its peak.
- In Hong Kong, Halloween is known as the festival of ‘Hungry Ghosts’.
- The last legal witch hangings in England took place in Bideford, Devon and the last in Scotland took place in Dornoch, Sutherland
- Superstition recommends that you hold your breath whilst walking past a graveyard so Halloween so that you don’t become possessed by a restless spirit.
We hope that you’ve enjoyed these spooky facts and maybe learned a thing or two! Have a safe and happy Halloween!