Some Odd Facts We Learned About Halloween

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(PCM) As the Halloween holiday draws near many people are running around trying to decorate the house, figure out last minute unique costume ideas (no more from Frozen, please!), and stock up on plenty of treats.

We took a moment to stop and think about the origins of Halloween and many of the myths surrounding the holiday, and finally shed some light on some odd facts that you may or may not know about Samhain, better known as Halloween.

First off, the origin of Halloween comes from the Celtic festival of the dead called Samhain. According to Celtic legend, they believed that the dead roamed on this holiday. That also spawned the custom of putting on a costume and leaving candy outside the door, as it was thought those offerings would appease the roaming spirits.

The original jack-o-lanterns were not made out of pumpkins, but rather were meticulously crafted out of beets, turnips and potatoes. The old Irish tale states that a man referred to as Stingy Jack was out having drinks with the Devil and convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin to pay for the drinks without spending any money.

The story goes on to reveal that Jack put the Devil, in coin form, in his pocket next to a silver cross that prevented the Devil from once again changing shape. Jack promised to free the Devil if he in return would leave him alone for a year. When the year was up, Jack tricked the Devil again by requesting the Devil pick a piece of fruit out a tree and while he was in the tree carving a cross into a piece of the bark. This prank earned Jack another 10 years of being Devil free and there was also the promise made that the Devil could never claim his soul.

Once Jack finally died, he was not accepted into Heaven and the Devil could not claim him for Hell, so Jack was forced to roam the earth with only a burning coal for light. He put his burning coal into a turnip for light and the rest is history. Stingy Jack then became “Jack of the Lantern” or “Jack-O-Lantern”.  The Irish began carving scary faces on beets and turnips in hopes to scare away Stingy Jack.

We also learned that many states ban the adoption of black cats anytime close to Halloween as they feel then animals could be used for some kind of sacrifice. In recent years, however, the ban has been lifted in many areas and in some cases the animal shelters use the Halloween holiday to their advantage, even running promotions that urge the adoption of black cats and kittens during this time of year.

The colors of both orange and black are typically associated with Halloween. Orange is a color the symbolizes strength and endurance and black can symbolize death and darkness, hence Halloween being viewed as a festival that once marked the boundaries between life and death.

One of the more odd rumors we discovered about Halloween is that if you happen to have a run-in with a spider, not to worry, it is just the spirit of a loved one watching over you. Made us begin to wonder if this could be true with spiders at anytime of the year … if so, then I have probably squished the spirit of a few too many deceased relatives.

A full moon is another creepy occurrence that is often times associated with Halloween, although it is an extreme rarity for one to actually occur on that date. It has only happened in 1925, 1944, 1955 and 1974. The next full moon to occur on Halloween with talk place on 10/31/2020.

A bread called Barmback was traditionally eaten on Halloween. The bread was baked with various objects inside and eating it became something of a fortune-telling game.

Finally, the origins of trick-or-treating, where children go door to door asking for candy has been debated for quite some time. Many cultures had similar practices, for example, in the UK, children would go door to door on Guy Fawkes day and ask for “a penny for the guy.” In Ireland it was fairly customary for orphans and widows to beg for supplies.

The actual phrase “trick-or-treat” seems to have much more modern origins. Some suggest that the phrase began in America in the early 20th century with the arrival of Irish immigrants who brought their mischief along with them. To combat pranks and other mischief by poor children, people suggested offering treats to them as a small bribe.

 

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