October 31st, 2012
For fun, we thought we’d post some interesting facts about the history of Halloween.
Halloween has its origins in the Druidic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-wen) which honored the end of the harvest, and the transition into the dormant, or dead, period until the rebirth in the Spring (Beltane). Samhain is old Irish for “summer’s end.” The Catholics used to have All Saints Day on May 13 and moved it to November 2nd to try to co-opt the holiday. November 1 was Hallow Mass. And October 31 became All Hallows Eve which got shortened to Halloween.
The Druids believed that the veil between this world and the one beyond was at it’s thinnest on Samhain, and to prevent spirits from following you home, you wore masks and costumes. This was also called “guising.”
Masks weren’t very popular for Halloween until the early 1920s. During World War II, Halloween was toned down due to sugar rationing and the somber mood of the citizens. In the 1950s, mask use took off partially because manufacturing ramped up, and partially because of the new suburban areas that encouraged neighborhoods. Current masks have become almost movie special effect quality.
Originally, people carved faces in turnips. The myth was of a farmer named Jack who tricked the Devil. However, there are no good ways of tracing the stories. In the mid-17th century, Jack-o’-lantern was used as the term for a night watchman or someone with a lantern.
In the middle ages, people made soul cakes that were passed out to the poor who would go door to door. In exchange cake, the poor would promise them to pray for those stuck in Purgatory. It was believed that if God heard enough prayers for someone in Purgatory, they would be released into Heaven. This tradition was called Souling.
Trick or treating for candy became established in the 50’s. In the 90’s, it evolved into local parties or safe trick or treating such as in a mall.
Kids would cause great mischief on Halloween, and some people would bribe them with sweets and treats to prevent them from causing mischief. Thus came the phrase “trick or treat?”
What will you be doing tonight?