“When witches go riding, and black cats are seen, the moon laughs and whispers, ‘tis near Halloween”- Author Unknown
Halloween has always been a holiday filled with mystery, magic and superstition, personally my second favourite celebration after Christmas.
What’s not to like about the Halloween celebration, it’s so much fun and mischief!
Think trick-or-treating (I’m just “marginally” too old for this one), Halloween costume parties, carving pumpkins, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, divination games, playing pranks, visiting haunted attractions, telling scary stories and watching horror films.
We had an incredibly exciting and busy last week fulfilled with shopping for Halloween decorations and lots of scary party food, decorating the house in endless spider webs, pumpkins, fake spiders (with occasional live additions) and obviously watching lots of horror films!
Guys have you ever wondered, every year we wear scary outfits, bob for apples and carve pumpkins on Halloween – but WHY?
There are different “schools of thought”, some believe that Halloween originates from the Celtic pagan festival of Samhain, meaning ‘Summer’s End’ which celebrated the end of harvest season.
Gaels believed that it was a time when the walls between our world and the next became thin and porous, allowing spirits to pass through, come back to life on the day and damage their crops.
The Christians would honour saints and pray for souls who have not yet reached heaven, including attending church services and lighting candles on the graves of the dead, remain popular, although elsewhere it is a more commercial and secular celebration.
Halloween and dressing up
It all started with Celts dressing up in white with blackened faces during the festival of Samhain to trick the evil spirits that they believed would be roaming the earth before All Saints’ Day on November 1st.
By the 11th century, this had been adapted by the Church into a tradition called ‘souling’, which is seen as being the origin of trick-or-treating. Children go door-to-door, asking for soul cakes in exchange for praying for the souls of friends and relatives.
In the 19th century, souling gave way to guising or mumming, when children would offer songs, poetry and jokes – instead of prayer – in exchange for fruit or money.
Costumes became more adventurous in the Victorian ages, they were influenced by gothic themes in literature, and dressed as bats and ghosts or what seemed exotic, such as an Egyptian pharoah. Later, costumes became influenced by pop culture, and became more sexualised in the 1970s.
And today it’s this!
The phrase trick-or-treat was first used in America in 1927, with the traditions brought over to America by immigrants. Halloween quickly became a widespread holiday that revolved around children.
Why do we carve pumpkins?
The carving of pumpkins originates from the Samhain festival, when Gaels would carve turnips to ward off spirits and stop fairies from settling in houses.
The influx of Irish immigrants in the 1840s to North America could not find any turnips to carve, as was tradition, so they used the more readily available pumpkin into which they carved scary faces.
By the 1920s pumpkin carving was widespread across America, and Halloween was a big holiday with dressing up and trick-or-treating.
You must agree that there is a fair bit of mystery, magic and superstition surrounding the whole concept of Halloween.
We avoid crossing paths with black cats, afraid that they might bring us bad luck but why? This idea has its roots in the Middle Ages, when many people believed that witches avoided detection by turning themselves into black cats.
We try not to walk under ladders for the same reason. This superstition may have come from the ancient Egyptians, who believed that triangles were sacred.
Then especially around Halloween we try to avoid breaking mirrors, stepping on cracks in the road or spilling salt. The list is endless!
But what about the Halloween traditions and beliefs that today we have forgotten all about?
In particular, many had to do with helping young women identify their future husbands and reassuring them that they would someday be married.
There are so many tales out there and I have just picked a few. One of the tales mentions that if a young woman ate a sugary concoction made out of walnuts, hazelnuts and nutmeg before bed on Halloween night she would dream about her future husband.
Young women used to toss apple-peels over their shoulders, hoping that the peels would fall on the floor in the shape of their future husbands’ initials.
At some Halloween parties, the first guest to find a burr on a chestnut-hunt would be the first to marry; at others, the first successful apple-bobber would be the first down the aisle.
How about standing in front of mirrors in darkened rooms, holding candles and looking over shoulders for your future husbands’ faces? This one is a bit creepy, not sure I would dare to do this (omitting that fact that I’m already happily married).
The history is all mesmerising but without further adieu keep scrolling down to discover my Halloween’s costume choice!
Guys I hope you enjoyed a few memories from our Halloween party. What do you think about this costume? What is your favourite Halloween costume? Let me know in the comments box below.
My Halloween Make up