Top 5 Facts About Halloween

By on September 25, 2013

For many children (and adults) Halloween is something to look forward to all year. In modern times it has become about dressing up, decorating your house with spooky decorations, going trick or treating, and playing party games. But where did the traditions come from and how did it all start? Most of those answers are right here in the top 5 facts about Halloween.


1. It all started in Ireland


Halloween has been linked to many historical festivals and practices. One of the most common links is to the Roman feast of Pomona. She was a wood nymph and the god of fruitful abundance. Then there is the festival of the dead called Parentalia which took place in ancient Rome. It lasted nine days and its purpose was to honor deceased family members. However, most historians believe Halloween actually descends from the Celtic festival Samhain, which was practiced most frequently in Ireland although it was also recognized in parts of Wales and Scotland. Samhain marked the end of the harvest season so it took place in the last days of October and the first days of November.


2. It has always been spooky


One of the most enjoyable parts of Halloween is getting scared (or pretending to get scared). But in old Ireland during the Samhain festival when the concept of Halloween was first born, it really was scary. The ancient Celts believed the Samhain festival opened up a door to the supernatural world which allowed ghosts and fairies to come into our world. The Celts were unsurprisingly frightened by this thought so they started wearing costumes to disguise themselves.


3. Carved pumpkins used to be turnips


The 19th century Celts used to carve turnips rather than pumpkins during the Samhain festival. They would put a candle inside, much like we do today, and then they would put it in a window to keep the spirits and fairies out of their home.


4. Today, it is measured in billions


Halloween is now big business. In the United States alone it is thought over $3 billion is spent just on costumes each year. Over one billion pounds of pumpkins are produced and sales of candy reach in excess of $2 billion. About half a billion is made each year from haunted house attractions. All of this makes Halloween second only to Christmas in terms of numbers and dollars.


5. Trick or treating used to be called guising


Trick or treating started in Ireland and Scotland. Back then it involved children dressing up in costumes and going door to door looking for money and food. It was called guising, a word that was first used in the United States in 1911.

About Damien McGinley

Damien is a professional writer, qualified journalist, father, husband, expert jam-on-toast spreader, rugby fan, and experienced player of games involving dressing up like a knight and building forts. Hails from Belfast.

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