Bobbing for apples, black cats with arched backs, and carved pumpkins are some of the things we commonly associate with Halloween. But some of the things that normally aren’t may surprise you. Get ready to count how many times you think, Really??:
It’s not some story that simply got mixed up with the truth. Celtic tradition held that souls returning to this world on New Year’s Eve (October 31st for them) wreaked havoc through mischief and hence brought the harsh winter and difficult farming that jeopardized their well being during the season. Dressing up in costumes and building bonfires intended to ward off spirits and was accompanied by fortune-telling by priests.
Yes, the “tricks” in “trick-or-treat” had a literal meaning at one time. When households wouldn’t “treat” children in costumes to candy, they were to pull some prank or “trick”. But many began to take these tricks to more violent levels, such as smashing windows and breaking into houses. In an effort to quell the problem, companies reinvented the holiday as more family-friendly and fun, and the vandalism slowly ceased.
In response to the holiday-sparked vandalism, a newspaper in Oregon ran a story with this phrase in the title. Though it had been used here and there previously, the phrase and the holiday really became synonymous after that.
Superstitions are heavily associated with the holiday, but on Halloween in the mid 19th century, a woman would look into a mirror in the dark and search for the shape of the face of her future mate. But if she saw a skull, it meant she would die before she married. Creepy.
YES: that annual tradition that involve children dressing in costumes and going door to door for candy derived from transients in the middle ages in Britain. They offered to pray for the family’s deceased relatives in trade for food. At other times, people would dress in costumes for food but would perform (e.g., sing or tell jokes) in exchange instead of praying.
So when you’re passing out candy to kids dressed like ghosts, witches, and, yes, even bums, just remember: Halloween actually had a very non-commercial, very devout purpose.
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