So I’m from Ireland which, if you didn’t know, happens to be the birthplace of Halloween. Originally called Samhain, this ancient festival was created by the Celts some 2000 years ago to mark the beginning of winter (a time often associated with darkness and death). On the night of October 31st, it was believed that ghosts and spirits of the dead would roam the Earth – clearly a cause for celebration. Today, Halloween is still widely celebrated all over Ireland and around the world as well. Halloween’s always been one of my favourite times of the year so I decided to research a few interesting facts about this festival.
1. Turnips were the original Jack-O-Lanterns
When I think of Halloween, spooky-faced pumpkins are one of the first things to come to mind. However, you may be interested to know that jack-o-lanterns were in fact originally made from turnips and used to ward of unwanted visitors on All Hallows Eve. It was only when Irish immigrants came to America, bringing their Halloween traditions with them, that pumpkins, native to the U.S., were found to be perfect for carving. The other day my mum went shopping and the supermarket happened to be out of pumpkins. Luckily there was a sale on turnips, and so Mum brought a few home for us to try to carve. The above photo is of a turnip that I carved myself, pretty scary don’t you think?
2. Door bells frighten ghosts
Did you know that ringing a bell supposedly scares evil spirits away? If this superstition is true than I can’t believe all I ever got was a couple of chocolate bars every Halloween in exchange for risking my life to rid peoples’ houses of ghosts. And to all the neighbours who only gave me orange or monkey nuts as payment for my sacrifice, that’s just plain selfish.
(Seriously though, am I the only one who’s gotten fruits when trick-or-treating?)
3. Every year a LOT of money is spent on Halloween Sweets
Halloween candy sales in the USA are estimated at over two billion dollars annually. Two. Billion. Dollars.
I think I’ve made my point.
4. Fear of spiders is one of the top phobias in the world
OK so I know this isn’t technically a Halloween fact, but let’s be honest – I’ll take zombies and vampires over spiders any day. That’s right, since I was very young I have always been terrified of insects, the eight-legged variety in particular. Why, you ask? I have no idea, but I do know that millions of other people can relate to this fear. In fact, Arachnophobia is one of the top ten phobias around the world, affecting four times as many women than men. At least I’m not the only one.
5. Costumes were originally worn to blend in with the creepy crowd
The tradition of wearing costumes on Halloween started thousands of years ago. On the night of October 31st, it was believed that the boundary between the worlds of the dead and the living was blurred. This meant that spirits of the dead would cross over into our world. The Celts started disguising themselves to avoid being recognised by the ghosts as human.
Well, that’s all for today! I hope you learnt a few new things about this spooky festival. Have a Happy Halloween!