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Tuesday, October 31, 2017


From Reader's Digest:

There's a dark side to the holiday
The Halloween of today, in which children dress up in costumes and light-heartedly demand treats from neighbors under threat of a trick, has largely been imported from the United States, where Irish immigrants introduced the custom in the 19th century. It is thought to stem from the idea that on Halloween all law is suspended. Dressing up in masks and costumes prevents people from being recognized by their own community. Being separated in this way allows the participants to play boisterous and often antisocial tricks.

It originally began as a pagan festival honoring the dead
For Celts and Anglo-Saxons the year ended when the herds were brought in from pasture at the end of October. The new year began in November, marked by the festival of Samhain, a celebration in which purifying bonfires were lit. On the night before Samhain, souls of the departed could return temporarily to their hearths, and ghosts and demons were free to roam the Earth.

The Catholic Church then used it to their advantage to honor saints
To counter the influence of this pagan festival, during the 9th century the Church instituted the feast of All Saints Day or All Hallows Day on November 1. Thereafter, October 31 became known as All Hallows Eve, or Halloween.

The pagan festival was brought back with All Soul's Day
In 998, the abbot of Cluny in France established November 2 as All Souls' Day, when prayers are said for the departed, thus completing the link between Samhain and Christian festivals.

Mexico created their own celebration called The Day of the Dead
In the 16th century, as they imposed Catholicism in Mexico, the colonizing Spaniards took elements of local religions and incorporated them into their rituals. The Day of the Dead on November 1 remains one of the great celebrations.

Apple bobbing originated in Britain
In Britain, most Halloween traditions died out with the rise of Puritanism in the 16th and 17th centuries, but games such as apple bobbing, in which apples floating in a bowl of water are caught in the mouth, are remnants of past rituals. When thrown over the left shoulder, the apple's peel would fall into a shape resembling the initials of a true lover.

All Saints Day, was banned by the English Protestants
They soon created a new autumn festival in their place. In 1606, Guy Fawkes was hanged for his role in the Catholic plot to blow up the House of Lords on November 4, 1605. Parliament then passed an Act for the perpetual celebration of the failure of both this second attempt on the life of James I and the plan to destroy Parliament itself.

The reason the colors associated with Halloween are orange and black
Orange and black are well-known contrasting Halloween colors. Orange symbolizes the fall harvest while black symbolizes death.

You used to have to work for your treats
Many trace trick-or-treating back to Europe where people would go door to door in costume performing choreographed dance routines and songs in exchange for treats. At the time it was known as 'mumming,' or 'guysing,' and was often associated with people begging for money.

Pumpkins weren't the only thing that used to be carved
The story of how the term Jack-o'-lantern came to be is based off of a man named Stingy Jack. He originally placed a piece of coal into a turnip to use as a lantern, not a pumpkin. Therefore, people used to carve turnips, beets, and potatoes before they started carving pumpkins.

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