Pumpkins, trick-or-treating and scary costumes are all Halloween traditions but have you ever thought why?
Carving pumpkins or Jack-o'-lanterns comes from Ireland. The Irish actually used turnips instead of pumpkins and the tradition is allegedly based on the legend of Stingy Jack. Jack captured the Devil and only freed him on the condition that Jack would never go to Hell. When poor old Jack died he wasn't welcome in Heaven and as he couldn't go to Hell he was forced to wander the Earth as a ghost for eternity! The Devil gave Jack a burning lump of coal in a carved turnip to light his way. Locals then began carving their own turnips to ward away evil spirits.
There are many different theories around the origins of trick-or-treating. One of our favourites comes from the Celtic people and as Halloween has its roots in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain we will go with this theory. During the fistival of Samhain people would leave gifts of food to pacify the spirits travelling at night. Some Celts then took advantage of the offering and began dressing as unearthly beings for offerings of food and drink. I'm not sure children today would appreciate an offering of a turnip, carrot, potato and a history lesson.
During the Middle Ages black cats were considered a symbol of the Devil. Centuries later, victimised ladies accused of witchcraft were often found to have cats. People began believing the cats were spirits in animal form watching over the witch. Maybe she was just a lonely person who enjoyed the companionship of her feline friend but why let that get in the way of a good story!
Black and orange
Traditional Halloween colours, black and orange, can be traced back to Samhain. For the Celts black symbolised the death of summer and orange represented the autumn harvest season.
Have fun this halloween, dressing up, spending time with friends and family, eating too many sweets, partying, carving pumpkins or just staying in the warm with your favourite book or film. Modern traditions so much nicer than some of the Halloween origins. Do you believe in ghosts? 👻