I have a special Halloween treat for everyone! Instead of my usual blog post, we have a guest blogger today. Gisele from Escapade is going to share with us a few fun facts about the spooky holiday we all know and love as Halloween!
Halloween is all about dressing up in costumes, carving pumpkins, and going trick or treating with the young ‘uns, but where do all these traditions come from? Let’s read her guest blog post to find out!
Fun Facts about Halloween
As the nights draw in and the trees take on an increasingly skeletal appearance, the spookiness of Halloween celebrations seem an apt response. Whether it’s dressing like the undead or carving up a pumpkin, October 31st is filled with ghoulish activities, many of which have ancient origins.
Halloween celebrations date back to pagan celebrations held over two millennia ago. The Catholic church frowned upon all things pagan and introduced the idea of All Saints Day to replace the Samhain festival in approximately 800 AD.
The word ‘Halloween’ developed from the Middle English word ‘Alholowmesse’, which meant ‘All Saints Day’. The night before was known as ‘All Hallows Even’, which eventually became shortened to ‘Hallowe’en’ and then to ‘Halloween’.
The US is the most Halloween-friendly country, with 86% of homes being decorated for the holiday. After Christmas, Halloween is the second most commercially lucrative holiday.
The belief that light keeps spirits at bay has been around for centuries. Jack o’lanterns were designed – originally from hollowed-out turnips – to give added Halloween protection when ghouls and ghosts were at their most active.
Approximately 99% of pumpkins sold in the UK are used for Jack o’lanterns at Halloween. Most of them come from Spalding – also known as the country’s ‘pumpkin capital’ – where David Bowman grows more than two million every year.
At 37 seconds, Jerry Ayers of Baltimore, Ohio, holds the record for being the fastest pumpkin carver in the world.
Trick or Treat?
The tradition of trick or treating is believed to have started in the Middle Ages, when poor people would dress up in costumes during Hallowmas and attempt to solicit food or money in exchange for prayers. Food was given in the form of a ‘soul cake’, which, when eaten, represented a spirit being freed from purgatory.
Later, the practice of trick or treating required the one asking for a treat to perform a trick for the giver’s amusement. It was only in the 19th century that ‘trick’ began to take on negative, and vaguely threatening, connotations.
The tradition of wearing a mask on Halloween comes from the Celtic belief that a mask would prevent the dead from recognising the living when they came to visit on October 31st. Sales of Halloween fancy dress costumes exceeded $6 billion in 2009 – almost two-thirds of these were adult-oriented ones. The favoured Halloween colours of orange and black are representative of the autumn harvest and the increasing darkness.
The game of ‘bobbing for apples’ originates from the Romans, who held a harvest festival to honour the goddess of fruit trees, Pamona.
If you spot a spider during Halloween, it is said to be the spirit of a loved one watching over you. Black cats are associated with witchcraft – they were believed to be witches’ familiars.
The 1978 film Halloween cost $320,000 to make, but ended up taking more than $50m around the world. The white mask worn by the Michael Myers character has since become one of the most popular Halloween costumes to wear on October 31st.