Fangtastic Facts about Halloween
Read our fun facts about the spookiest time of year
We all know Halloween as a day of the year that we put on our best fancy dress as scary creatures and other things such as favourite TV characters. Some of us enjoy Halloween by staying in and watching scary movies, others go out and trick or treat, and some host Halloween parties for their family and friends.
However, Halloween started long before the tradition of dressing up and carving pumpkins, and here are some interesting facts we’ve found about Halloween.
1.) Halloween dates back over 2,000 years and was called something completely different.
Believe it or not this yearly event is even older than Christianity. It was originally a Celtic festival called Samhain, which meant “Summer’s end”. It was a feast that marked the full harvest and as it was believed the veil between the world of spirits and the living was at its thinnest, to recognise spirits crossing over. Bonfires were also key features to these festivals, as it was believed that they would ward off ghosts.
2.) America didn’t invent Halloween, it embraced it.
When we think of Halloween and trick or treating, we often think of America. American’s often hold huge Halloween celebrations, and if you don’t get involved, you could be targeted with some tricks (or at least that’s what TV and film would indicate, but we all know they aren’t 100% factually correct). But Halloween as we know it, with the fancy dress and trick-or-treating actually existed in Medieval times, in Ireland and Scotland. Back then it was known as ‘guising’; young people would dress up in costumes and went door-to-door looking for food or money in exchange for songs, poems, or other ‘tricks’ they performed.
It was introduced to America in the 1840s when a lot of Irish immigrants fled to America due to the potato famine. The tradition spread until the mischievous Halloween prankster reached an all-time high in the 1920s, and then it was popularised again in the 1930s by creating community-based trick-or-treating that some believed was a way to control excessive pranksters.
3.) The name Jack-o'-lantern also comes from Ireland.
There was a story told about an Irish man named Stingy Jack. He tricked the devil and therefore was not allowed into heaven or hell – as a result, he was forced to spend his days roaming the Earth, carrying a lantern, and then went by the name “Jack of the Lantern”. So that’s where the name Jack-o'-lanterns, as American’s most common call carved pumpkins, is supposed to originate from.
4.) Instead of pumpkins, turnips, potatoes, and beetroots.
That’s right, Jack-o'-lanterns did originate in Ireland. But instead of carving pumpkins, which was popularised in America, vegetables such as potatoes, turnips, beetroot were craved instead.
5.) Sugar rationing stopped trick-or-treating during World War II.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has ever learnt about World War II. There was a huge shortage or sweet stuff during the Second World War, this was due to sugar being in short supply, along with many other food items. So, things like sweets were rationed just like most other things, which meant that trick-or-treating was essentially forgotten about in World War II. We can’t blame them, there were bigger things to worry about.
So, there you have it, five fangatastic and interesting facts about Halloween! If you’re still looking for sweet treats for your loved ones this Halloween, check out our Halloween Treats.