Halloween as we know it today is a big conglomerate of shared traditions, new adopted meanings, some good, old-fashioned cultural appropriation, and fun. But how did it get here? As it turns out, there are some spooky yet awesome facts about Halloween that not everybody knows about. Think about it: why else would we put on a costume, eat a ton of candy, go party, and try to have a great time? Halloween was originally shorthand for “All Hallow’s Eve,” a day that preceded the Christian All Saint’s Day, but these traditions were alive and well way before the Catholics decided to attempt to convert the whole world (and in the process be hella appropriative and thus invent Halloween as we know it today).
Halloween is a holiday rich in history, rife with weird trivia, and (always) a ton of fun. Even if you’re not a Halloween person, the history surrounding Halloween is sort of mind blowing. Why are witches always riding brooms? What the hell is a Jack-O-Lantern anyway? What does “trick or treat” mean once and for all? I hate to break it to you, but all these creepy clowns lurking around everywhere is pretty on brand for what Halloween used to be. Yikes. I’m not even that big of a Halloween person, but as someone who loves all things witchy and presiding Trivia Queen of the Universe, you all have to know about these facts. You can’t deny that they’re totally fun. Know your spooky roots and get down with these seven awesome facts about Halloween you have to know.
Jack-O-Lanterns Were Originally Potatoes And BeetsJack-O-Lantern is technically short for "Jack of the lanterns." Long story short, legenda has it that some guy with the nickname"Stingy Jack" was so cheap that The Devil decided to make an example of him by making his spirit roam the Earth forever with nothing but a piece of coal to light his way. If you were superstitious and believed in this myth in the time when it was popular in England/Ireland/Scotland, you would carve out faces on turnips and potatoes to ward off the spirit of Stingy Jack on All Hallow's Eve aka Halloween. You basically used whatever vegetable was available and at the ready. Since culture sharing is real and immigration happens, when this tradition came to America, people realized that pumpkins were around, abundant, and seasonal for October. That's why people use pumpkins as Jack-O-Lanterns today! Source: iStock
Witches' Brooms Were The OG Sex ToyYAS WITCHES! GET YOURS! You will never think of witches riding broomsticks the same way again. In the 15th century, practicing witches would ingest a powerful, naturally occurring hallucinogen called henbane. Henbane was referred to as a flying ointment because it's a hallucinogen. Now, some witches liked to apply this ointment to their vulvas or inside their vaginas. Well, how else would you directly apply it in an efficient way than with a wooden staff. Where would you get one of those? Oh, this broom looks handy. Let's just grease this up, stick it down there, and ride, shall we witches? No word as to whether or not they really flew, but surely some people thought they did.Source: iStock
Trick Or Treating Was Considered Rude AFDuring the Medieval period, people used to beg for food and in return would offer prayers on All Saint's Day (November 1). This was called "souling." This practice merged with the Scottish and Irish tradition of "guising" where kids would literally do a trick, like a card trick, or telling a story, in exchange for a sweet in what we know today as trick or treating. The phrase didn't even appear until 1927 and in the 1930s angered some grouchy grown ups. How dare children demand sweets? How awful. How rude. It got to the point where, allegedly, in 1948 during the Halloween parade in NYC, the Madison Square Boys Club apparently carried a sign that read "American Boys Don't Beg," which tbh sounds a little xenophobic. Of course, later on, this practice became more widely accepted and everyone took a collective chill pill, but your grandparents maybe didn't trick or treat when they were kids for this exact reason. Source: iStock
Costumes Were Originally Intended As Demon DisguisesAccording to Celtic lore, Halloween was a day where spirits, demons, and other beings not normally of this realm would walk among the living. Pretty on brand for Halloween, but the novelty of wearing a costume wasn't to be creative or have a fun excuse to dress up like a cat. People originally wore costumes that were intended to be demon disguises. Yup, people dressed as demons in case they were to encounter a real demon on that day, they'd just blend in with them. So, understandable, some of the first Halloween costumes were extra super scary, but I don't know what's scarier: those costumes or being so at peace with mortality that you're chill and prepared in case you were to accidentally bump into a legit demon.Source: iStock
Black Cats Are Bad Luck Because People Hated Cat LadiesIn the Middle Ages, when accusing people of being witches was a real thing, a lot of those women being accused had cats as pets, and so cats were considered bad luck by association. It's as simple as that. This stereotype made its way into a folktale where a father and a son were walking in the woods and more or less tried to kill a cat by throwing stones at it. The cat limped its way to a witch's house for shelter and since that day, witches were believed to be able to transform themselves into black cats to roam the streets undetected. Black cats were said to be witches, silently prowling the streets and judging you, and lest we forget, witches are evil Satan worshippers (why why why no). So no, black cats aren't bad luck and for the record, those dudes who decided to stone a cat for fun aren't the heroes of any story. Black cats are cute and there's no reason to be afraid of them.Source: iStock
The World's Longest Haunted House Is In AmericaThe Lewisburg Haunted Cave is a 3,564 foot long haunted cave in Lewisburg, Ohio, and according to the Guinness Book Of World Records, is the longest haunted house in the world. It's 80 feet below ground, in case this wasn't scary enough for you. According to their website, they have thirty thousand real bats and over 500 feet of haunted bridges, you know, for fun and for naturally spooky things. If haunted houses are your thing, be my guest, but I will personally be staying far, far away from Lewisburg, Ohio this Halloween.Source: iStock
Mischief Night Used To Involve A Ton Of CabbageCabbage used to be so integral to Halloween that in the 19th century, some American towns called Halloween "Cabbage Night." Halloween used to carry a ton of traditions about romance and love to the point where it was basically another Valentine's Day. An old Scottish Halloween tradition involved girls using stumps of cabbages to predict who they were going to marry and when. This tradition came with European immigrants when they came to America. This sounds like a fun sleepover game, so what comes with fun girls' sleepovers? Teen boys trolling them. Knowing these girls were going to be talking about romance and doing these cabbage rituals all night, country boys in Framingham, Massachusetts used to have a lot of fun throwing rotting cabbage, corn, and other vegetables at people's houses to make fun of the whole thing.Source: iStock
Did you know any of these facts? Do you have some spooky facts of your own that we forgot? Let us know in the comments!
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