Halloween is like a cultural mash-up. It is also known as Allhalloween, All Hallows’ Eve, All Saints’ Eve and Hallowe’en, which is a contraction of Hallows’ Even or Hallows’ Evening. People across the globe irrespective of their caste, creed or colour like to celebrate the festival. For kids, it is an oppourtunity to stock up candies while for others it is a chance to party wearing stupefying costumes.
But the festival of Halloween has been celebrated in all ages it seems and over the years the traditions got transformed. Here are a few interesting facts about Halloween that will make you raise your eye brows.
The “bon” in bonfire is for bones
During Samhain, the festival celebrated to mark the end of the harvest period for Gaels, priests lit large fires to represent the sun returning after the hard winter. Then, they used to throw the bones of cattle into the flames, creating a bone-fire.
Dressing up in costumes was once a way to hide from ghosts
The tradition originated as a way for the Celtic and other European people to hide from the spirits who returned at this time of year. People used to wear masks when they left their homes after dark, so the ghosts would think they were fellow spirits. Also to debar ghosts from entering their houses, people would place bowls of food outside to make them happy.
The Jack-o-lanterns were originally carved into turnips
In a traditional Celtic story, a man named Jack tricked the Devil, so after Jack died the Devil made him roam the night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put that burning coal in a carved-out turnip, a common vegetable there, and became known as Jack of the Lantern. Later, Scottish and Irish people would carve their own versions of Jack’s lantern with scary faces and place them near windows or doors to frighten away Jack and other evil spirits. The native pumpkin was more available than turnips in America so the immigrants used pumpkins, and today’s jack-o-lanterns were born.
The practice trick-or-treating evolved from the medieval custom of ‘souling’ in England
During All Souls’ Day celebrations, poor people used to knock on doors asking for food in exchange for saying prayers for the home’s dead relatives.
Halloween has a romantic history
Scottish girls hung wet sheets in front of fire on the holiday to see images of their future husband. Young girls used to also peel an apple, often at midnight, in one strip and throw it over their shoulder. The peeled strip was to land in the shape of the first letter of her future husband’s name. In colonial America, Halloween’s bobbing for apples was a fortune-telling game: the first person to get the apple without using his or her hands would be the first to marry.
Oct 30, 2019 17:51 IST