The traditional ways of celebrating Halloween are rooted in the past. Here are some tidbits:
- The wearing of costumes comes from Celtic tradition. Afraid of evil spirits on this night? Well, the Celts believed that dressing up “like” evil spirits would somehow placate them, maybe even fool them into leaving you alone.
- Halloween is an offshoot of the Celtic festival know as Samhain. Bonfires were lit to ward off evil spirits.
- Jack-o-lanterns were originally made of turnips. In time, in North America, pumpkins were used instead.
- Black cats were thought to be protectors of their witch masters’ dark powers.
- Oddly, in England white cats are thought to be associated with evil.
- Mexico celebrates the Day of the Dead instead of Halloween.
- Don’t smash that spider in your home on Halloween. It might just be the spirit of a dead relative inside that little creepy spider body that has come back to check up on you.
- Bobbing for apples dates back to Roman times in celebration of Pamona, goddess of fruit trees.
- Young girls in ancient Scotland hung wet bed sheets in front of a roaring fire on Halloween as part of a divination ritual to see their future husband’s face.
- If you wear your clothes inside out and then walk backwards on Halloween, some say you will see a real witch at midnight.
So, enjoy the Halloween season freely with the knowledge that many of the traditions were made at a time when people really did believe that the dead walked on this most spooky of nights.
Photo of Jack-o-lanterns by Peter Dutton. Creative Commons license