Thursday thirteen: 13 things about
When Christianity came to England and the rest of Europe, 1 November became All Saints Day – a day dedicated to all those saints who didn’t have a special day of their own. They performed a mass called ‘All hallows mass’ and the night before became known as All Hallows E’en and eventually Hallowe’en or Halloween.
It is thought that the colours orange and black became Halloween colours because orange is associated with harvests (Halloween marks the end of harvest) and black is associated with death.
A pumpkin is really a squash, and comes from the same family as the cucumber.
The biggest pumpkin in the world tipped the scales at a whopping 1,446 pounds. This gigantic gourd was weighed in October 2004 at a pumpkin festival in Port Elgin, Ontario, Canada.
The Irish used turnips as their “Jack’s lanterns” originally. But when the immigrants came to America , they found that pumpkins were far more plentiful than turnips. So the Jack-O-Lantern in America was a hollowed-out pumpkin, lit with an ember.
To meet a witch, put on your clothes on inside out and walk backward.
On Halloween, villagers would extinguish the fires in their homes, to make them cold and undesirable. They would then dress up in all manner of ghoulish costumes and noisily paraded around the neighborhood, being as destructive as possible in order to frighten away spirits looking for bodies to possess.
The tradition of bobbing for apples is also part of the history of Halloween and is known to have come about from the Roman’s Pomona Day. Romans honored the dead with a festival called Feralia in late October. It honored Pomona , their goddess of fruit trees who was often pictured wearing a crown of apples. During this festival, they ran races and played games to honor the “Apple Queen” and used omens such as apple parings thrown over the shoulder or nuts burned in the fire in order to predict the future concerning their marital prospects. When the Romans conquered the Celts, they combined local Samhain customs with their own pagan harvest festival. Bobbing for apples was derived from this blended pagan celebration.
On the evening before Samhain (another name for Halloween), people left food on their doorsteps to keep hungry spirits from entering the house. Festivalgoers started dressing in ghost, witch, and goblin costumes so that wandering spirits would leave them alone. To this day, these are Halloween’s most popular costumes.
Trick-or-treating is thought to have its origins in a European custom called souling where people would beg for “soul cakes.” and by wearing masks or blackening their faces, it was thought that people were impersonating dead ancestors.
The Jack-o-lantern custom probably comes from Irish folklore. As the tale is told, a man named Jack, who was notorious as a drunkard and trickster, tricked Satan into climbing a tree. Jack then carved an image of a cross in the tree’s trunk, trapping the devil up the tree. Jack made a deal with the devil that, if he would never tempt him again, he would promise to let him down the tree. According to the folk tale, after Jack died, he was denied entrance to Heaven because of his evil ways, but he was also denied access to Hell because he had tricked the devil. Instead, the devil gave him a single ember to light his way through the frigid darkness. The ember was placed inside a hollowed-out turnip to keep it glowing longer.