Midweek Mysteries: Halloween Superstitions

Today's Midweek Mysteries is slightly different from usual, I'll be talking about the origins of Halloween.

Although we mostly associated as an American holiday nowadays, Halloween originated from the Celtic regions (UK, Ireland and Northern France. The Celts celebrated Samhain ( pronounced sow-in) on 31st October, which was celebrated as New Year's Eve during this era. Many of the Halloween traditions we enjoy today actually originated from Celtic superstitions.

Pumpkin Carving

Nowadays we carve pumpkins every year to decorate our homes during October. This tradition originated from England. Halloween night was considered to be the time that the dead could roam the Earth. To protect their homes from the spirits of the dead, people would carve grotesque faces into turnips and leave them in their doorways and window sills to scare away the ghosts.

Trick or Treating

There is a little debate about how this tradition started but 2 theories stand out above the rest. One is that people believed that the lost souls roaming around could be bribed with food. People would leave baskets of food outside their houses as an offering to the spirits, believing that it would protect them from the phantoms' tricks. The other is that one Halloween, peasants would go 'souling'. This would involve them knocking on the doors of wealthier families begging for soul cakes in exchange for prayers for the wealthy families deceased loved ones.

Apple Bobbing

Apple bobbing is believed to have originated as a way of divination. Apples were placed into a barrel and the first person to catch an apple without their hands would be the first to marry, hopefully before the next Halloween.

Night of Fortune-telling

The veil between the realms were believed to be the thinnest on October 31st. Some people still believe that divination is strongest on Halloween night. Some fortune-telling games that people still partake in were started in ancient times. One of these games is throwing an apple peel (usually from a bobbed apple) over the left shoulder and whichever shape it lands in is a future spouses' inital.

Wearing a Costume

This is another tradition that is debated. Some say that this started as a Bonfire Night tradition in England. People would wear a Guy Fawkes mask to hide their true natures. (Bonfire Night in England is celebrated on 5th November). Others say that people would wear masks when leaving their houses on Halloween to confuse the spirits and protect themselves from evil. Maybe both stories are true.

I'd love to hear some of your favourite Halloween traditions, let me know in the comments below!

Happy Halloween!
Loppy x


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