If you were asked to describe Halloween in one word, would
you mention any of the following; vampires, candy, pumpkins, scary, fun,
witches. There are very good reasons
that these particular words make up Halloween but most people wouldn’t be able
to tell you why. So I am going to give
you a quick lesson and if you find yourself having to answer a question on
Halloween for the top prize in a quiz you’ll be well prepared.

All Hallow’s Eve or Halloween as we best know it, is the eve
of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day, a day dedicated to
remembering the dead and dates back to around 1750. Although customs have changed over time, 31st
October is still a significant date on the calendar and remembered all across
the world.


Costumes associated with Halloween have traditionally been
modelled on supernatural figures; vampires, ghosts, skeletons, witches and
devils but today anything goes, as more and more costumes are readily available
to buy.

Trick or treating back in the 1700s didn’t involve sweets or
candy, Halloweeners would go house to house singing for food, a luxury in those
times. Kids now come home armed with
bags of candy, willing households all ready for them to knock on the door as
supermarkets stock up with ideal ‘treats.’

Another symbol of Halloween is the Jack-o-lantern and I have
included the myth that surrounds what is believed to be the first making of a
Jack-o-lantern.

On route home after a night’s drinking, Jack
encounters the
Devil who tricks him into climbing a tree. A quick-thinking Jack etches the sign of the cross into the bark, thus trapping the Devil. Jack strikes a bargain that Satan can never claim his soul.
After a life of
sin, drink, and mendacity, Jack is refused entry to heaven when he dies. Keeping
his promise, the Devil refuses to let Jack into hell and throws a live coal straight
from the
fires of hell at him. It was a cold night, so Jack places the coal in a hollowed out
turnip to stop it from going out, since which time Jack and his lantern have
been roaming looking for a place to rest.

The
turnip was eventually replaced by a pumpkin as it was more cost effective and
due to its softness easier to hollow out.
The insides were then turned into pumpkin soup or pumpkin pie to feast
on – definitely sounds more mouth-watering than turnip pie or turnip soup. Carved out pumpkins are placed in windows or
by front doors as a sign that Halloweeners will be well received when they
knock.

So know you have learnt a little about the history of
Halloween, it’s time to put on your witches hat, grab your black cat and head
out into the dark to practise your best scary face. Happy Halloween.

Have fun and keep safe and don’t terrify anyone that doesn’t
want to be terrified.