As most of us know, Halloween falls on the 31st of October every year. What was previously a pagan holiday and thought to be the time of the year when the veil separating the spiritual and physical world was most thin, is now a time known by most as an occasion to dress up in spooky costumes and celebrate with family and friends.
Some common Halloween activities include dressing up and decorating your home with Halloween-related decoration, trick or treating, visiting haunted houses and watching Halloween movies.
Despite its deeply spiritual beginnings, like many other holidays, Halloween has been commercialized, but throughout this article, we will remind you of some interesting Halloween facts and the spooky season.
1 – Halloween was originally known as Samhain
Halloween was once a celebration in the pagan calendar that was celebrating Samhain, a Gaelic festival that marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the winter.
Samhain was a time to remember and connect with deceased loved ones, and to honour your ancestral heritage. It is known as the time in the year when the veil between the spiritual and physical world is thinnest, as the natural cycle of the harvest is complete and ready to renew.
2 – ‘Halloween’ was originally known as ‘All Hallows Eve’
All Hallows Eve; was the day before the Christian “All Hallows’ Day” which is also known as “All Saints’ Day”. November 1st was named “All Saints’ Day” by The Pope, who designated it as a day to honour the saints and martyrs to attempt to move the attention away from pagan traditions, even though it was quite like Samhain in its celebrations.
3 – Trick or Treating was once known as ‘Souling’
Back in medieval times when Halloween was known as Samhain, poor people would go ‘Souling’ which was where they would go knocking door-to-door offering prayers for the dead, in exchange for soul cakes. This may be one of the more eerie Halloween facts.
Over time, this has evolved into Trick or Treating, where it is a tradition for children to dress up wearing costumes and walk around houses collecting sweet treats from their neighbourhood.
4 – Pumpkins or ‘Jack O Lanterns’ were originally made from turnips.
When people started immigrating to North America, they used the native pumpkin as it was softer and larger, making it much easier to carve patterns into. Pumpkin carving is a skill of its own in recent times, there is even a Guinness world record for the fastest pumpkin carving.
Jack O lanterns as essentially a pumpkin carving or carved out turnip with a candle or light inside, which is another one of our interesting Halloween facts.
5 – In Mexico, Halloween is celebrated by Day of the Dead on All Saints’ Day
The Day of the Dead originated in Mexico and is associated with the Catholic celebrations of All Saints’ Day. Compared to the solemn beginnings of Halloween, Day of the Dead is portrayed as a holiday of joyful celebration rather than mourning.
It is a day involving celebrating the dead and is usually spent with family and friends gathering to pay respects to remember friends and family members who have passed. The celebrations also occasionally take a humorous tone, as relatives of the deceased share funny stories and anecdotes about those that have passed, celebrating their life.
The traditions of Day of the Dead are like those of Halloween, as building altars with the favourite foods and drinks of the departed is common practice. It is also common to give gifts to friends, like Halloween when kids go trick or treating, which can be candy sugar skulls (aka Halloween candy).
6 – Scarecrows are an important symbol of Halloween’s roots
Halloween originated as a Gaelic festival in celebration of the pagan calendar which celebrated Samhain, a festival that marked the end of the harvest season. The use of scarecrows is still common throughout Halloween celebrations today, such as when pumpkin picking or visiting haunted houses, and is a nod to Halloween’s agricultural roots.
7 – Dressing up on Halloween night has been a long-standing tradition
It’s one of the commonly known Halloween facts, many people dress up and wear costumes as spooky characters such as ghosts, zombies, and corpse brides. Some of the creepier Halloween costumes include the Michael Myers mask.
This isn’t a new phenomenon, as the idea behind dressing up on Halloween comes from an ancient Celtic tradition where the local people would dress up as ghosts and ghouls to ‘blend in’ and escape the attention of the real spirits roaming around on Samhain.
This is because Halloween is supposedly the time when the veil between the two worlds was thinnest, and ghosts would be roaming around the physical world freely. And it’s one of the Halloween traditions kids use trick or treating today.
8 – Candy Corn is a staple candy during Halloween in the USA
Halloween’s traditions vary in most countries and places. A staple Halloween candy in the United States of America is candy corn. It looks like your usual corn on the cob, yet interestingly, it’s made from candy.
This delicious candy corn treat if often handed out to kids during trick or treating. It’s typically divided up into three sections of different colours and flavours. With a flavour of sugar, honey, butter, and vanilla. Carry on reading as we have a few more Halloween facts yet to come.
9. “Jack O lantern” originated from the Irish legend Stingy Jack
Legend tells us that Stingy Jack invited the devil to come and have a drink with him. But Jack didn’t want to pay for the drink, and he convinced the devil to instead turn into a coin. Instead of buying the drink, Jack pocketed the coin and kept it close to a silver cross in his house, which prevented the devil from taking shape again.
Jack promised to let the devil go if he would leave him alone for a year, and that when he died, the devil wouldn’t claim his soul.
10. Candy corn used to be called Chicken Feed
This is our final fact ten in interesting our Halloween facts. Many would argue that candy corn tastes like chicken feed, which is how it gained its original name. Created in the 1880s by George Renninger, it was sold to the masses by Goelitz Confectionery Company during the turn of the century.
Historically, because corn is what was used to feed chickens, the creation was called “Chicken Feed”. And the box was marked with a colourful rooster.
If you enjoyed reading this article, have a look at our pumpkin carving ideas.