Switch Witch has researched Halloween traditions and fun facts so that she may share them with you.
All Hallows Eve
Halloween dates back more than 2000 years to the ancient Celtic festival called Samhain – and celebrated on November 1. Samhain was that time of year when the end of harvest was approaching. November 1 marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Samhain was a festival to encourage the return of the fertile land after the winter season. In the 8th century, the Christian Church transformed this tradition into All Saints Day, with the night leading up as All Hallows Eve – shortened to Halloween.
Folklore stipulates that lanterns were left on doorways as a means of warding off evil spirits. However, the reality is that pumpkins were a means of marking a path at night. Celtic traditions include the use of “turnip lanterns”, which were once used in Scotland and Ireland as a way to guide people home from festivals. Pumpkins were later adapted for this purpose.
Bobbing for Apples
Autumn is the ideal time to pick apples, which is why this game gained its association with this season. At some point in our past, most of us have dipped our heads into a water filled basin and attempted to grasp an apple using only our teeth. Few have ever taken the trouble to investigate the origins of this game, which is still known in some Scottish communities as “dooking”. Dooking was a traditional game that was played to determine who would marry next.
Trick or Treat
The “Trick or Treat” concept originated from “Souling” and “Guising” of Medieval Britain.
- Souling: On All Saints Day, November 2, the needy would beg for little cakes made with raisins and spice – referred to as Soul Cakes. In return, the beggar would pray for the souls of deceased relatives.
- Guising: The young would dress up in costume and would sing, recite poetry, or share a joke, in exchange for food or money.
In 19th Century America, Irish and Scotish immigrants revised these traditions – which today’s US youth have come to know as “Trick or Treating”.
To learn more about this Favorite Time of the Year for Switch Witch, visit HISTORY CHANNEL History of Halloween.