The one night of the year on which devils, ghosts and witches roam the earth is almost upon us! It doesn’t matter that most of these ghoulish creatures are actually costumed children who demand sweets, because the spirit of Halloween is strong! It’s the holiday that’s inspired everything from movies to online casino games, and no matter how old you are, you’re never to old for a bit of fun! The day offers a chance to dress up, have a bit of a party, and even indulge in some old-fashioned activities such as bobbing for apples.
The celebration on 31 October is an ancient one that traditionally marked the beginning of winter. Over time, it was adopted as a Christian feast day, and later became the commercial success that it is today. Let’s check out some of the frightening facts about the festivity.
1. Halloween Is An Irish Creation
The Irish celebrated the precursor of Halloween long before Columbus sailed anywhere. Called ‘Samhain’, the festival at the end of October was connected to the slaughtering of livestock that would not last the winter. With all that blood and death, as well as noticeably shorter days, it was the perfect time of the year at which to remember the dead. With that, came the belief that the spirits of loved ones and ancestors could roam the world for one night.
2. Jack-O’-Lanterns Weren’t Always Pumpkins
The carved pumpkins known as jack-o’-lanterns are one of Halloween’s most widely recognised symbols. What you might not have known is that they were not, and in some places still aren’t, always made using pumpkins. In Ireland, England, and parts of Scotland, they were made from beets, potatoes, and turnips.
3. Hide From Ghosts With Fancy Dress
People have been dressing up for Halloween for thousands of years. By the time the festival had been adopted into the Catholic Church calendar as All Hallows Eve (1 November is still celebrated as All Saints Day), people participated in ‘guising’. The word basically means dressing up in costumes. They did it to try blend in among all those spirits that were believed to wander around on the night.
4. People Danced For Treats
Guising involved more than dressing up in a frightening costume. People would go from door to door, and they would sing, dance, and even perform short plays in the hope of receiving money, spiced biscuits called soul-cakes, and other treats. The tradition spread to North America, but the date on which the activities were performed gradually shifted to Thanksgiving.
5. Shelters Ban Black Cat Adoptions
Some animal shelters do not let people adopt black cats in the weeks leading up to Halloween. The ban, which is happening in fewer places these days, has its origin in the ‘Satanic Panic’ of the 1980s. Shelters instituted it just in case Satanists adopted cats to use in sacrifices to the devil.
6. Halloween Is A Bad Influence On Children
According to research, Halloween can have a negative influence on children’s behaviour. This has less to do with the fears of Christian fundamentalists, and more to do with costumes and masks. Studies showed that children wearing masks and who believed themselves to be alone were more likely to steal sweets and money than unmasked children in groups or with adult supervision.
7. One of the Highest Grossing Commercial Holidays
Halloween is one of the highest grossing commercial holidays in the USA. Some estimates state that it is second only to Christmas. According to the National Retail Federation, American consumers spent approximately $5.8 billion on cards, costumes and sweets in 2010. By 2017, that figure had risen to more than $8 billion, making it a day on which people really splash the cash!