Why do we love it? Candy! Oh the delicious candy and all the wonderful things you can do with it.
And let’s not forget costumes!
An overall magic that hangs heavy in the air on All Hallow’s Eve. This, my friends, is why I love this spectacular holiday with its wonderful decor and tradition. Candy is celebrated and costumes are A-OK on this day. Plus I like decorating my house and going to houses that go all out. Like take this house for instance. Those faces on tombstones in the background are animated to Grim Grinning Ghosts!
Okay, enough of the fangirling on Halloween. I’m sure at some point you’ve wondered where Halloween came from. Well, since I’ve been letting my curiosity lead the way I did a little digging, read a few blogs here and there—some authentic, some not—and this is the best I can come up with. May I present to you…
Halloween, is actually Hallowe’en, or Hallow Evening, or All Hallow’s Eve, because originally November 1st was what mattered. November 1st is All Saints Day, or as I like to call it El Día de Los Muertos. It also has ties to an ancient Celtic festival called Samhain, who also believed the dead world and the living world for some reason crossed paths at this time. Those celebrating Samhain would light bonfires to attract bugs which attracted bats to eat them, but mostly the bonfires were to scare demons away. (Which makes sense, since demons live in hellfire all the time…?) They too wore costumes in hopes of scaring demons. (Maybe they scared easier in those days?)
Día de Los Muertos peeps believed their ancestors or more immediate dead family members could only visit the living on this day. Some people didn’t want to be seen by certain family members, so they’d wear a mask to hide.
I know what you’re thinking at this point. You’re wondering, But Jae, where does the CANDY come in?
Trick-or-treating is actually a newer tradition, and by new I mean 1900s. They think it may be tied to “souling” which is when poor peeps would go door to door asking for for food on Hallowmas (something Shakespeare mentioned, btw!) in exchange for prayers offered on El Día de Los Muertos the next day. The big difference in our modern day version is that instead of asking for food in exchange for a prayer, now kids asked for candy in exchange for no harm befalling the owner’s house.
Let’s see, we’ve talked about bats, about costumes and masks, candy… what else could there be?
Oh right! Why is the Jack the mascot of Halloween? Again, as it goes with these things before we kept official records, there are varying stories. I’m going to go with the one I found the most entertaining. Here goes:
The idea was Jack could pay the villagers back what he’d stolen with the gold coin and when the devil disappeared the villagers would accuse each other of having stolen the coin.
Time passes and eventually Jack grows old and dies. The Devil, now free of the gold coin form and quite miffed that Jack tricked him, doesn’t want him in Hell and chucks a hellfire ember at him. Since Jack’s a rotten thief he’s not allowed in heaven either. What to do…?
Jack carved a turnip head because he liked turnips so much, stuck the ember inside and now wanders the earth, even to this day. So if you see a floating turnip walking around at night, quickly turn the other way.
But one thing bothered me about that story, where does the pumpkin come into play? Well, I imagine it went something like this with the villagers.
So there you have it ladies and gentlemen. The history of Halloween! Halloween has inspired so many great stories, including one of my favorites, The Nightmare Before Christmas. But even if Halloween doesn’t directly inspire you in your story crafting, I think Halloween has its own creative magic that imbues storytellers with imaginative power.
And what about you? Is Halloween your favorite holiday? What do you love about Halloween? Do any of you *shudder* hate Halloween? If so, why? Tell me about all this and any memorable Halloween experiences you’ve had in the comments below.