Happy Halloween All!
Since it's a Saturday and I want to keep it light -- and also because I'm a complete nerd -- how about some Halloween trivia!
1) Halloween is often called Hallowe'en, because it is All Hallow's Eve. And is that a great name for a holiday? I think I'm going to use the apostrophed spelling from now on, just because I like the way it looks.
2) Hallowe'en marks the Celtic holiday Samhain, which marked summers end and the beginning of the darker time of the year. It was said that on this night, the boundaries between this world and the next were at their thinnest. Hence, the ghoulies and ghosties.
3) Because the dead and demonic could roam the Earth on Hallowe'en, the Celts wore costumes to prevent being recognized as humans. Their protective measures have given rise to our costumes. Though I doubt dressing as a pixie could save you from a ghost.
4) To honor the dead on Samhain, people set a place for the dead at the table and told stories of their ancestors. Nowadays, we tell ghost stories of debatable spookiness.
5)The name jack-o'-lantern comes from the Irish legend of Stingy Jack, a greedy, gambling, heavy drinking farmer who tricked the devil into climbing a tree and trapped him in it by carving a cross into the trunk. In revenge, the devil cursed on Jack and condemned him to forever walk the earth at night with only the light he had with him that day: a candle inside a hollowed out turnip. (In America, we use pumpkins, because they are easier to get here than turnips.)
6) In Ireland, these days, it is more common to give trick or treating children money than candy.
7) The story your parents told you about razors in your candy is not actually true. It's just a very pervasive urban myth. Sources vary on whether there have been no cases of such attacks on children or if these attacks are just so rare as to be statistical nos, but it turns out you can, in fact, trust your neighbors. (That doesn't mean you should take candy from strangers, though, kids.)
8) Hallowe'en is also known as All Saint's Eve, because it is the day prior to All Saint's Day, which honors those who have achieved Beatific Vision in heaven. All Saint's Day is also called Hallowmas, which ties to Hallowe'en. (I think, in all days to come, I shall be calling the holiday Hallowmas, because I think that sounds cool.)
9) Hallowe'en is one of the eight Sabbats in the Wiccan Wheel of the Year. It's one of the holiest days on the calendar.
10) Hallowe'en is an excellent day for divination. A lot of traditions involve predicting one's spouse. For example, if you sit in a darkened room and stare a mirror, supposedly, the face of your future spouse will appear before you. If you're fated to die before you wed, a skull will appear. Should you be short a mirror, or if you're hungry, have an apple. Peel it and throw the peel over your shoulder. Supposedly, the peel will form the first initial of your fated one.
11) If you see a spider on Hallowe'en, it is the soul of departed loved one watching over you. Now aren't you sorry you stepped on them?
12) If you want to meet a witch, you should walk backwards at midnight while wearing your clothes inside out. If you don't want to run afoul of a ghost, you should sprinkle salt or oatmeal on your head.
13) Samhainophobia is an intense, irrational fear of Hallowe'en. I am very sorry for these people, because they miss so much.