There are so many lovely Halloween traditions that are rarely understood. I have spent some time delving into these mysterious origins..
The Apple Bobbing game.
A fun and challenging event that comprises of apples in a barrel and the competitor must take out an apple blindfolded with their teeth while their hands are tied behind their back. The origin of this seemingly difficult game was at time when young women had many suitors. Each potential suitor who carve their name into an apple and the bride to be would have to bite and take out an apple bearing the name of the would be husband.
( take love out of the equation !!)
The carving of the pumpkin.
A definitely fun and messy tradition that I do with the kids every year. Cut a large hole on the top of a decent sized pumpkin and carve out shapes, scary faces, and figures and light a candle inside and leave it at the door step. It all started centuries ago in Ireland as will-o- of the wisp ( aka will of the torch) in the 1660s then later when the Irish immigrants in the USA used turnips, pumpkins or root vegetables to create these “Jack o lanterns”. In mythology, jack was a drunkard who fooled the devil into not killing him. In punishment he was doomed to eternally roam the earth with a lantern to light his way. Yet modern day we remember Jack with the Jack o lantern through these ghastly carvings to ward off the evil spirits. From a more practical perspective they serve nutritionally to make delicious foods with the pulp and roast the seeds for eating. ( nothing is wasted) It was thought to represent souls in purgatory trying to find their way home.
The Ghoulish masks and costumes.
This tradition albeit somewhat modern in the 1950s stems from the idea that during Halloween the thin veil between the living and the dead is pierced by the evil spirits. SO if everyone is disguised with a monster-ish face mask then they cannot be possessed by intermingling demons. It has become commercialized and ever more inventive.
The trick or treat tradition
Door to door children are dressed up and demand candy treats with the historic “ trick or treat” warning. In olden times it started with the idea that if one does not provide treats to the asker then the visited house can be tricked with pranks, usually egging of the establishment. Yet even more significantly the tradition began with people coming to beg for food and by offering them the food it is the inference that we feed the passed souls on their journey as they come to visit. The food provided was termed “ all soul cakes” and those asking for the food would sing prayers for the deceased. It was really a community based tradition to remember the loved ones and know the locals, a far cry from a Batman dressed kid asking for a chocolate bar.
I love you