Halloween is a time for dressing up and asking strangers for sweet treats. The popular annual celebration takes place on October 31st and is thought to have originated over 2000 years ago, when Celts wore costumes and lit bonfires to mark the passing of summer and to ward off roaming spirits during the festival of Samhain. Celts believed that on the night before the New Year (November 1st) the boundary between the worlds of the living and dead became indistinct.
Over time the way in which Halloween is celebrated evolved, and today it is very much a child-friendly event. There are however many unusual, strange and spooky ways in which this annual event has been celebrated in the past.
- Dancing For Treats
Most experts trace the early origins of trick or treating to European customs that involved dressing up and going door to door. The trick-or-treaters would then perform choreographed dances and plays in exchange for treats. Because most of the early trick-or-treaters were poor it was considered to be door-to-door begging, and was stopped in the 1930s.
- Animal Costumes
Records show that French and German tribes traditionally wore costumes made from animal skin and heads during ceremonies to connect with the spirits of the dead. This celebration evolved into the Celtic holiday of Samhain, which then inspired the present day Halloween trend.
- Burning Black Cats
Black cats are traditionally associated with superstition and bad luck, although this belief varies between different cultures and countries. In the UK and Japan black cats are considered to be a sign of good luck and affluence. The Puritan Pilgrims associated black cats with sorcery and witchcraft and it was a common practice to burn black cats to protect against fire.
- Vegetable Assortment
The distinctive jack-o’-lantern that is carved out of pumpkins today originates from an old Irish folk tale. The story tells of a man called Stingy Jack who tricked the Devil after making a bet. When Jack died, God decided he wasn’t fit for heaven, and the Devil could not claim his soul. Jack was therefore sent to roam the Earth, armed only with a piece of coal for light. He made a lantern out of a turnip and put the coal inside. Based on the myth, spooky faces were carved into beets, potatoes and pumpkins to scare spirits and Stingy Jack away.
- Cabbage Night
The name Cabbage Night comes from a Scottish custom that involved girls using cabbage stumps to predict information about their future husbands. As with most unusual customs, the fortune telling game involved over time and in early Framingham, Massachusetts, USA, teenage girls went around throwing cabbage at their neighbours’ houses on the night of Halloween. Later, boys joined in and other rotting vegetables were thrown.
- Soulmate Connection
Romantic fortune telling games were often played on the night Halloween, particularly in some parts of Ireland many years ago. These games were considered to be a good way to find a potential suitor and predictions about who would marry, and when, were cast. A modern day psychic or spiritual reading can help you connect with a romantic partner, and can also reveal how and when love will find you.