31st of October is known as the most terrifying night of the year… All Hallows’ Evening, or more popularly known as Halloween. Spooky! On that night, everybody becomes an evil witch, a furious demon, a dangerous vampire… Everybody will go door to door singing ‘trick or treat’ in the search for sweets… Everybody carves pumpkins into jack-o’-lantern.
Apart from this, what do you really know about Halloween? Did you know the festival originated in Ireland? And what about Samhain, Barmbrack and the Banshee? Do you know what are they?
Discover all the curiosities of the Halloween festival!
Although today, Halloween is celebrated practically all over the world, its origin lies in the pagan Celtic festival of ‘Samhain’, around 100 A.D. approximately. It was observed on the evening of the 31st of October, with a big fire, marking the end of the harvest season and thus the beginning of winter. What’s more, it was the moment when Celtics stored supplies to overcome winter.
For the Celts this period was very spiritual. They believed that old ghosts would return to the mortal world on that night. To confront them, they lighted big fires to drive away the evil spirits. They also wore scary dresses and masks to resemble them and avoid being taken away to the underworld.
When the Irish emigrated to the United States they brought this tradition with them and now it has become very popular.
Trick or treat
Mostly celebrated by children, this tradition involves going from door to door with a terrifying costume asking for sweets or money. When people open the door, the children ask ‘trick or treat’. This means that they have to give them sweets or they will suffer a horrible mischief.
These are pumpkins hand-carved with a candle inside. Its name has its origin in the Irish legend of Stingy Jack. He was a drunk old man that convinced the Devil to climb a tree and trapped him there by carving a sign of the cross in the tree trunk. Many years later, after Jack’s death, the devil got his revenge by condemning Jack to roam the Earth every night for eternity with the only light he had: a candle inside an empty turnip.
This is the traditional Halloween cake and it is basically made of sweet bread and fruits. Inside is hidden: a ring, a thimble, a rag and a penny. The legend said if you find the ring you will be lucky in love and you will marry soon, but if you find the thimble you will never marry. Furthermore, if you find the coin you will have a fortunate year, but a bad financial future with the rag.
In Halloween myths, this is a female spirit who heralds death when she appears and screams. Her usual human form is of an ugly old woman, dressed in dirty rags; but she could also choose to appear as a young and beautiful woman. Legend says that her scream was the last thing you would hear before your death.
Snap apple / bobbing for apples
Snap apple is a popular Halloween game in which a group of friends have to fight to be the first to bite an apple… which is suspended from a string! Bobbing for apples is very similar, but the apples are inside a basin of water. A very fun game for people of all ages!