7 Things you didn't know about halloween


Halloween is more Irish than St. Patricks Day

Halloween was inspired by the Irish Celtic festival Samhain. The Celts believed it was a time of transition, when the veil between this world and the next came down, and the spirits of all who had died that year moved on to the next life. However if the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped, the deceased could come back to life and create chaos among the living. Not a good thing.

The tradition spread to other parts of the world after the Irish fled their country following the potato famine.


Orange and black typify halloween’s mood

Do you know why we associate orange and black with halloween? If we take a step in to the world of Feng Shui, believers of the Chinese philosophical system will tell you that orange and black are on the opposite sides of the energy spectrum. Orange is warm, lively, bouncy and it happens to represent the fall of harvest. Black, on the other hand, can be associated with mystery, secretive and unknown, where anything might jump out and grab you. For the Celts it would signify the death of summer.


Day of the Dead is NOT halloween

Despite external similarities ~ sweet treats, skeletons, people in costumes, and other graveyard and death imagery ~ Halloween and the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) are very different holidays. While Halloween promotes fear of the dead, Día de los Muertos celebrates the dead, originating with Mexican festivities dating back to the Aztecs and their fascination with skulls, but it has spread all over the Hispanic world.

It’s not all serious. It’s a time to remember the dead, tell humorous stories about them, and feast on candy, sugar skulls and muertos, the bread of the dead. Schoolchildren compete in building altars, decorating them with flowers and poems. There’s even a type of poem called calaveras (skulls) which is used to mock the living as well as the dead. It’s a time to celebrate the present, as well as the past.

Stay tuned for our Dia de los Muertos piece tomorrow.


The Timing Is Important

The name Halloween is a diminution of All Hallow’s Evening, also known as the night before All Saints Day (“hallow” is the Old English word for saint). Christians around the world have marked the Triduum of All Hallows since the 8th century AD. The three-day observation includes All `, and lasts from October 31 to November 2.


Haunting Houdini

Harry Houdini (1874-1926), one of the most famous and mysterious magicians, died in 1926 on Halloween night after suffering from an appendicitis that occurred after he suffered three stomach punches during a dressing room misunderstanding.

He ignored his doctors recommendations to go straight in to surgery after he was diagnosed with acute appendicitis. In fact Houdini went on and performed at the Garrick Theater in Detroit where he was reported to have fainted during the show (his last performance), but was revived and carried on.

Unfortunately for Houdini he couldn’t escape the power of Halloween.


Do you trick or treat?

We all know the famous line “trick or treat”, but where did it come from? And why do we do it?The tradition of going from door to door receiving food already existed in Great Britain and Ireland in the form of “souling”, where children and poor people would sing and say prayers for the dead in return for cakes. In Mexico, this practice is called calaverita (Spanish for little skull), and instead of “trick or treat”, the children ask ¿me da mi calaverita? (can you give me my little skull?). A calaverita is a small skull made of sugar or chocolate.

“Trick or Treat” was in fact adopted in the USA, Canada, United Kingdom and Ireland only recently.

There is another theory where this tradition came from. Many experts trace trick-or-treating to the European practice of “mumming”, in which participants would go door-to-door performing choreographed dances, songs and plays in exchange for treats. Which do you prefer? Will you be dancing with your children tonight?


The origin of the pumpkin at halloween

We go back to Ireland, where legend has it a common man named Stingy Jack asked the devil to join him for a drink. When neither of them wanted to pay the bill Stingy Jack tricked the devil, making him turn into a coin to pay the bill. What the devil didn’t know was that Jack was carrying a small cross in his pocket, where he placed the coin and therefore trapped the devil.

The devil was eventually released by Jack, but he had unfinished business. He returned for vengeance and more specifically Jack’s soul. However Stingy Jack seemed to be quite the cunning commoner. He again tricked the devil, persuading him to climb a tree where he trapped him for the second time by carving a cross at the base of the tree. Again the devil was released but this time promised never to return for Jack’s soul.

When Stingy Jack eventually died he was refused entrance to heaven. Because of their deal, he couldn’t join the devil in hell either. So he was therefore stuck in purgatory for eternity.

When Irish families re told this famous story they would carve turnips with scary faces to deter men like Stingy Jack from their houses. When the tradition crossed the atlantic people quickly realized pumpkins would make the perfect fruit carving, candle housing, deterrent to keep their homes safe over the Halloween period. Thus, you see ‘jack-o-lanterns’ everywhere.

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