Fun Facts about Halloween (Might be Shocking)!
There are as many legends and stories about Halloween as there are costume options. And almost as many horror flicks that keep returning for re-runs every year, along with one or two new ones. How people celebrate Halloween depends on their age, of course. Younger kids go trick-or-treating; teenagers may get together and have a marathon horror flick viewing; some more unsavory teens may use the night to play pranks or to engage in vandalism. And adults stay at home, trying to keep the dog calm while the doorbell keeps ringing. But Halloween actually has an interesting history, so here are some fun facts you probably will be shocked to know.
Halloween Began in Europe and it was called “Mumming”
This was the practice on a designated day in the fall when people would dress in costumes and perform dances, short plays, or songs on other people’s doorsteps. The homeowners would supply treats, usually fruits, nuts or dates. Probably not the kind of treats our kids are looking for!
Obviously, this activity was bound to come to America via European immigrants, but it was originally on Thanksgiving Day. Poor people used the day to collect coins, but wealthier children also too part. During the Depression, begging for money by going door-to-door was outlawed in most towns and cities. Kids then began to use the former holiday for pranks. To stop the pranking, Halloween became an “official” holiday, for costuming and candy-giving, in the 40’s.
Mumming Actually Came from an Earlier Celtic Festival
The Celts believed that on a certain day every year, the ghosts of the dead actually roamed around. To appease them, everyone, adults included, dressed in costumes and left treats outside their doors. Celts were pagans, and eventually the Christians tried to usurp this “day of the dead” by using it to celebrate all saints – thus “All Saints Day” on November 1 of every year. Some form of Halloween, however, continued in both pagan and Christian societies.
Original Costumes Were All Natural
In order to make a connection with the ghosts of the dead, many people, during the time of the Roman Empire wore hollowed out animal heads and skins for costumes. This was common among Germanic tribes. The Celts blackened their faces and dressed as evil spirits, sometimes carrying decorated horse skulls in their parades.
Jack-o’-Lanterns Have a History Too
According to Irish legend, there is a story of a guy called Stingy Jack. He made deals with the Devil and the Devil promised not to take his soul when he died. When he did die, and the Devil did not take him, God decided that he wasn’t good enough to get into Heaven either, so he made Jack roam the Earth for eternity using only a lit piece of coal for light. Jack then put the coal inside a turnip and used it like a lantern. So, according to legend, he became Jack of the Lantern. So on Halloween night, the Irish used to carve scary faces into turnips and potatoes to keep Jack and other nasty creatures away.
Fast Forward to Now – Three Facts
1. Many animal shelters will not let people adopt black cats around Halloween. They fear that horrible sadistic individuals will use them for sacrifices while trying to play out witchcraft rituals.
2. Some research studies show that young children who dress up in costumes on Halloween and go door-to-door will actually, if in groups, engage in misbehavior. They will steal candy or money – things they would not normally do if they were alone. Somehow the “group think” thing catches hold.
3. Safety issues today have also changed trick-or-treating habits. Schools and churches now hold “Trunk or Treating” events, at which children dress in costumes and go from car-to-car, collecting candy from parents and/or church members.
For some, Halloween is a favorite holiday with all of its superstitions and modern day rituals. Some love it so much, the plan their weddings on Halloween night. And that actually comes from a Halloween tradition in Ireland too. Halloween was one of only a few nights in which young people of the opposite sex were allowed to “mingle.” So, it was a good way to play Match.com.
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