Fright Night on October 31.

Pumpkins, bats, witches, cats... how are you celebrating Halloween this year? | Photo by Aventure Parc.
Pumpkins, bats, witches, cats… how are you celebrating Halloween this year? | Photo by Aventure Parc.

In four days’ time, you will have the perfect reason to break out the candy bars, restock the chocolates and sweets and all manners of tasty treats in your kitchen. Not because it’s football season (although the Barclay’s Premier League 2015-2016 has already began), but because in four days’ time, on October 31st, it will be Halloween. Children will come knockin’ on your front doors, trickin’ and treatin’. Say, will children end up with diabetes and toothaches as they grow older, after having devoured all the candies they received on Halloween?

I used to ask myself how did Halloween come into existence. I thought it was a publicity stunt by Hollywood or Disneyland. Making up stories to scare the kids into behaving themselves, that sort of thing. Parents are pretty good at doing that. Especially when they want you to eat your greens or brush your teeth before bedtime or adhere to a midnight curfew (or your carriage will turn back into a pumpkin). Halloween is famously known as a ‘trick-or-treat’ episode complete with treats for children or costume parties for the older ones. Many people celebrate it without knowing its origins and myths. These can help to make the holiday even more interesting, so today’s post will be a history lesson on the origins of Halloween, followed by 15 fun facts of Halloween.

The word ‘Halloween‘ derived from the old words of ‘All Hallows Eve‘ because it took place on the eve of All Hallows Day, which falls on November 1. ‘Hallow‘ is an old word for ‘saint‘ and because November 1 is known as ‘All Saints Day‘, thus Halloween is always celebrated on October 31.

The culture can be traced back to the Druids, a Celtic race in Ireland, Britain, and Northern Europe, over 2,000 years ago. Its roots lay in the annual feast of Samhain on October 31 to honour the dead and signified the ‘end of summer’, or in this case, the starting of the month of November. Samhain was a harvest festival with huge scared bonfires that marked the end of the Celtic year and the start of a new one. The Celts believed the souls of the dead roamed the streets and villages at night. But not all spirits were friendly, so treats were put out to pacify evil and ensure next year’s crops would be plentiful. This custom soon evolved into trick-or-treating that kids enjoy so much today!

Different cultures view Halloween differently but traditional customs remain the same. It can be a time for fun, costume parties, and trick-or-treating, or of superstition, ghosts, witches, and spirits that should be avoided. Celebrating Halloween is a preference, not taking part in an evil holiday. There are no references that tie this holiday to pagan rituals or occults.

Now I’d like to share a list of 15 Halloween Fun Facts with you:

  1. Orange is associated with the Fall harvest, and black is associated with darkness and death.
  2. Ireland is thought to be the birth place of Halloween over 2,000 years ago.
  3. Ye Olde Jack o’ Lantern was the first Jack o’ Lantern that originated in Ireland where people placed candles in hollowed-out turnips to keep spirits and ghosts away.
  4. Spiders are thought to be the spirits of loved ones watching over you.
  5. Halloween is the second most commercially celebrated and successful holiday after Christmas.
  6. As spirits and ghosts roamed the countryside on Halloween nights, people wearing masks and costumes to avoid being recognized as humans may be the reason for costume parties on Halloween.
  7. Black cats were once believed to be witches’ familiars who protected their powers.
  8. Superstitious beliefs led people to think that witches turned themselves into black cats to avoid detection.
  9. The intense, persistent fear of Halloween suffered by an individual is known as ‘Samhainophobia’.
  10. The custom of ‘trick-or-treat‘ evolved from the Celtic practice when treats and food were put out to pacify and placate the evil spirits who roamed the streets of Samhain.
  11. Candy sales average about US$2 billion annually in the United States during Halloween.
  12. According to tradition, people who wore their clothes inside out and walked backwards on Halloween, they will see a witch at midnight.
  13. The Asian-styled Halloween is known as the ‘Festival of the Hungry Ghosts’, where lanterns are lit to guide spirits back home, and food and gifts are offered to please the spirits.
  14. The famous magician Harry Houdini (1874-1926) died on the night of Halloween.
  15. Based on an Irish legend, Jack o’ Lanterns were named after a stingy man called Jack, who played tricks on the Devil several times, and was forbidden entrance into Heaven and Hell by God and the Devil. He was condemned to wander Earth, waving his lantern to lead people away from their paths.

So, what will you be doing this Halloween? Attending costume parties or throwing your own? Organizing a get-together with friends to watch horror movie marathons? Trawling your neighbourhood streets, dressed as a zombie and pretending to be the star of the Walking Dead? Or happily baking Halloween cookies for your nieces and nephews? Or worse, cowering under the blankets in your bedroom, praying that there are no monsters under your bed (are you ‘Samhainophobic?’)

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