Halloween is such a fascinating holiday to me. It has a long, rich history and is so much fun! I love hearing all the interesting facts about Halloween which I think might surprise you, too, so I thought I’d share a few of my favorite fun facts about Halloween.
Spooky and Fun Facts About Halloween
Halloween, also known as All Hallow’s Eve, can trace it’s roots back nearly 2,000 years to a Celtic holiday called Samhain which means “summer’s end” in Gaelic and was traditionally celebrated on November 1st.
It is basically thought to have been a harvest event where all harvest was collected for the winter, animals were brought back from pastures, and also a time for communing with the dead as it was believed that this day was one in which spirits crossed over into the other world. In Mexico, November 1st is also known as Dia de Los Santos (All Saints Day – for children) and November 2nd is known as Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead or All Souls Day – for all dead spirits) and has similar roots in Halloween traditions.
The first jack-o-lanterns were made from turnips!
They’ve been made from all kinds of gourds and squash over the years and I think it was directly related to whatever they had in surplus.
Halloween is the second-highest grossing holiday.
It only falls second to Christmas. This makes me think we should stop spending so much of our hard-earned cash on candy and costumes, but all the pretty Halloweenie things! I know, I have a problem 😛
The word “witch” comes from the old English word “wicce” meaning “wise woman.”
This referred to Wiccans which, at some point, were very highly respected people and held one of their two annual meetings on Halloween night.
Jack-o-lanterns are named, according to Irish legend, after a man named Jack who tricked the devil several times and was forbidden to enter heaven or hell, doomed to wander earth forever. It was said he waves his lantern to lead people away from their paths at night.
Because the Catholic church was trying to convert Pagans, they came up with the name Halloween or “Hallowmas,” a 3-day holiday from October 31st to November 2nd to honor saints and pray for the dead.
Black cats, spiders, and bats were thought to be the familiars of witches and thus, people thought they caused bad luck. Samhain’s tradition of building a big bonfire to ward off insects actually attracts bats (not sure if that’s intentional though).
During this time, the veil between worlds was thought to be at it’s thinnest so people believed spirits could slip through and roam earth. This is why we wear costumes – to throw off the spirits of the dead!
People leave candy and food out on their doorsteps to ward off evil spirits.
Since spirits were thought to roam the earth during this time, people would leave food out to get the spirits to leave them alone.
Bonfires were originally lit by Pagans to ward off darkness and evil spirits.
The word “bonfire” actually comes from it’s original name “bonefire.” It was dubbed this name because Pagans would usually burn crops, animals, and even humans up until the 1600’s!
In Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man, Halloween is Celtic New Year’s!
November 1st is the New Year according to Celtic tradition and why Samhain was celebrated.