Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Halloween - 10 Things

Did you know that the custom of trick or treating is believed to have developed from a medieval custom called souling?
 The poor would go from door to door asking for food in return for prayers for the dead.

And do you know why folk dress up for Halloween?
Why to fool the spirits that are wandering on All Hallow's Eve when the veil between the world of the living and the dead is said to be at it's thinnest.

Do you know the legend of the Jack O Lantern?
 Apparently Jack tricked the devil into agreeing never to collect his soul. Unfortunately for Jack when he died he wasn't allowed into Heaven and because of the agreement the Devil had made he wasn't allowed into hell either. Jack's spirit was left to wander the earth moaning about how dark it was. Someone took pity on Jack and tossed him a lump of glowing coal which he put into a hollowed out pumpkin which he now uses to light his way - especially on Halloween!

And did you know that large turnips (swedes, rutabaga) were once used to make Jack O Lanterns in the UK?
Pumkins were very much a North American crop but now they are very popular in the UK too and they make a far more dramatic, and easier to carve Jack O Lantern.

Do you know why orange and black are such popular Halloween colours?
Well orange is a symbol of strength and endurance and black symbolizes death and darkness. These two colours  symbolize the demarcations between life and death and as the veil between the living world and the world of the dead is said to be at it's thinnest during Halloween they have been adopted as Halloween colours.

And did you know that some people suffer from a Halloween phobia?
No me neither but they do and it's called Samhainophobia.

Do you know that Halloween is also known as Samhain?
Samhain is a Celtic festival, a pagan sabbat, that marks the end of harvest.

And did you know that Samhain / Halloween is also The Celtic New Year?
In the old Celtic calendar the New Year began at sunset on Samhain.

Do you know that Halloween is the perfect time for scrying, trying to see the future?
There are many ancient Halloween traditions for trying to see into the future, especially for finding out who you are going to marry.

And did you know that Halloween is a time to honour  the dead?
Many cultures honour their dead and remember their ancestors at this time of year in a way we do it too with Remembrance Sunday in November.

(Image copyright James Caton)

1 comment:

  1. Some very interesting facts here, especially the jack o lantern one.. very eerie!