13 ghoulish facts about Halloween
It’s the scariest time of the year. The night when the door between our world and the spirit world begins to creep open… Or, it’s just a good excuse for a party?
Here are 13 ghoulish facts that will help you decide.
1 | Halloween began in… Scotland!
The ancient Celtic festival Samhain celebrated the end of summer and the beginning of the dark cold winter.
Surely that’s July in Scotland?
Samhain also celebrated the boundary between the living world and the dead.
Believing that ghosts and the dead would walk among the living on 31 October.
To ward of any evil spirits, large bonfires were lit in every village.
In some areas, neep lanterns – that’s turnip lanterns to anyone not Scottish – were made.
As with modern pumpkin lanterns, the turnips were scooped out, a face was made and a candle was stuck in the middle.
2 | Christians stole Halloween
Like most cool pagan events, such as Christmas, Christianity took it for themselves.
All in an effort to recruit more churchgoers.
Pope Gregory III declared 1 November as All Saints Day and incorporated some of the rituals of Samhain.
The 31 October became All Hallow’s Eve.
3 | Find your SOULmate
In olden days of Ireland, dating wasn’t as easy as sitting on your sofa and swiping right.
You had two choices to mingle with the opposite sex, St Valentines Day and Halloween.
Presumably, you could go to a gay bar at any time…
4 | Score at bobbing apples to score
American girls appreciate a good apple bobber!
And so they should, as it has some scientifically proven – not really – fortune-telling properties.
The better your head can bob, the better your chances of being the next person to marry…
5 | Never mind Halloween, let’s have cabbage night
In the 19th Century, parts of the US originally called 31 October Cabbage Night rather than Halloween.
Cabbage Night comes from Scotland. Of course it does… we Scots love a good cabbage.
Although now I’ve moved to Brighton only a red cabbage soaked in red wine vinegar will do…
Cabbages were integral to another fortune-telling game, where stumps were used to predict information on future husbands. Totally sensible…
“Jenny, why did you decide to marry me?”
“The cabbage stump said so…”
6 | Trick or treat? No dance!
Guysing – trick or treating – door to door originally involved doing a dance for some sweeties – [insert joke about raving here] – but this was seen as begging in America.
Sometime in the 1930s, trick or treating came to the fore when kids were more likely to throw eggs at you for not giving them a treat. Bloody Americans!
7 | Bats are an original part of Halloween
Bats have been part of Halloween since day one.
They would fly around the lit bonfires during Samhain, eating flies as they go.
8 | Happy Wiccan New Year!
Long believed to be the time of year when spirits and fairies would enter the world, Halloween marks the end of the year for Wiccans.
It’s also the time of year when Liberty Cap magic mushrooms sprout, opening a portal to the world of the fairies.
9 | Are you really scared of Halloween? There’s a name for that
Samhainophobia, to be exact. Come on, it’s just an old Celtic rave. Nothing to be scared of.
Bonfire’s, drumming and magic mushrooms. Let’s ‘ave it!
10 | Dress to impress
Originally, people believed that dressing up as spirits and demons would confuse them.
If you looked like a hag from the depths of hell, your soul would be safe as demons would treat you as one of their own.
A tradition that still lives on today in the Bigg Market, Newcastle and West Street, Brighton.
11 | Wise old woman
As well as stealing all the good holidays, the Church was also good at demonising intelligent women.
The word witch comes from the old English word for wise woman.
Invariably, if you were female and knew a thing or two about the medicinal properties of plants you were seen as a wife of the devil and should be burnt to death.
Outlander fans will know exactly what I mean…
12 | How to see a witch
All you need to do – according to legend – is put your clothes on inside out and walk backwards on Halloween, you’ll then see a witch at midnight.
Or more likely, you’ll see a nurse in casualty as you’ve fallen over and smacked your head.
13 | The scariest fact of all
We spent £320 million – $418 million – on Halloween in 2017. That’s a lot of plastic crap being thrown away…
Do your part and keep your Halloween costumes and reuse them next year.