A Handful of Halloween Facts

Tis the season to be jolly…wait that isn’t right is it? Well maybe it is if you are one of the many people who love Halloween and associate October with the ghouls, spooks and murderous villains. Today is Halloween, and while we are not entering autumn as our Northern brothers and sisters are, we can still take pleasure in mutilating pumpkins and dressing up in some of our favorite Halloween characters.

tumblr_nbd5b76SIW1qhbkkeo1_500While we in South Africa sadly cannot trick or treat, unless you are willing to climb someone’s barbed wire fence to knocked on their door, it is still nice to know a little something about this black and orange day. Here are some Halloween facts to kick off this Halloween!

  • Dressing up is all about scarring off the lost spirits, encouraging them to move on. The tradition comes from the Pagan times where costumes were made of animal skin and whatever else they could find. The idea was that the spirits, when seeing everyone else in costume, would assume that those they see are also spirits and this would encourage them to free themselves of their earthly bonds. This is the history behind why people dress up in terrifying outfits, although today any outfit goes.
  • Originally a jack-o-lantern would be made out of turnip. This was the tradition of the Brits and Irish but when Irish immigrants travelled across the ocean to North America, pumpkins were cheaper than turnips. Pumpkin carving comes from the legend of Stingy Jack who trapped the devil and tried to bargain with him. The devil would only be released if he promised Jack that he would never let Jack into hell. When Jack died he found that he wasn’t allowed into heaven or hell trap forever between realms. The devil gave him coal, which he carried in a carved turnip, to light his way for eternity.
  • Are you a fan of the Halloween series of movies? Did you know that the face of Michael Myers is based on the face of William Shatner? The next time you watch the franchise, look closely and you will see the resemblance.
  • Do you know the history behind why witches have broomsticks? Back in the day, if you were an old lady, especially if you lived on your own, being accused on witchcraft wasn’t uncommon. Most old women were poor and could not afford to have a horse to get them around, so they would use walking sticks which were later replaced with broomsticks. Other version of why witches use broomsticks includes drug use and hallucination, and Pagan women dancing and jumping around poles.
  • Harry Houdini perished on Halloween night in 1926.
  • Everyone knows that the colours of Halloween are orange and black but not everyone knows why. The colour black mourns the end of the warm and long summer days while the orange represents the harvest.
  • It is thought that Halloween dates back to 4000BC and did you know that Samhainophobia is the fear of Halloween?

Today, when the boundaries of the living and the dead begin to thin, when every party has an abundance of strangely dressed people, be kind to those around you. You never know who might be visiting from the beyond.

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