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Some Interesting Halloween Trivia

Updated on October 18, 2012
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Halloween is one of the most exciting holidays around; it can be enjoyed equal by children and adults. It is the only time of the year that anything gross and scary, or considered unacceptable, is allowed. (Since we live in a “normal and decent” society; there are many things that are not allowed.) During Halloween time we are allowed to “cut loss” and act out and dress up as pretty much anything we wish and it is fine; and even encouraged—the grosser the better!

There is a lot of history and tradition that goes along with Halloween. Sadly, it is also one of the most misunderstood holidays around. Unlike Easter, Christmas or Thanksgiving, Halloween has been viewed as an evil, pagan and even satanic (i.e. non-Christian) holiday. Some churches have even stopped calling Halloween parties “Halloween” and refer to them as “Harvest Festivals” (which actually sound more “pagan” then “Halloween” does).

I put together some interesting trivia about Halloween and some history about its origins. You might be surprised to know how much of the “Americanized” Halloween traditions actually come from all over the world (from different cultures, both New World and Old). We have simply taken the “coolest” parts of those traditions and mixed them together into what we have today.

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1. The word "Halloween"

The word “Halloween” is derived from All Hallow’s Eve. It is a traditional Catholic day of reverence. It has moved around quite a bit (like many other Christian holy days) to adhere to other religions holidays; basically to overlap them since ending a culture's tradition is quite difficult and it is simpler to “mask” it is with another.

Even “trick or treating” is actually derived from this date because one all Hallowmass (November 1st) groups of people would go door to door and ask for food in return for giving prayers for the dead on All Saint’s Day (November 2nd).

It is odd to point out that there are many families that don’t “observe” Halloween for religious reasons; claiming it is an evil satanic holiday. This is quite ironic, since Halloween is originally a Catholic day of reverence and celebration.

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2. Dia De Los Muertos

Día de los Muertos (Spanish: Day of the Dead) originated from a native Mexican festival that spans three days (from October 30th to November 1st).

Much like other religious traditions around the world, the Aztec believed in revering their dead ancestors. On the ninth month of their calendar, they would honor the dead with prayer shrines, alters, offerings of food, flowers and the well-known Sugar Skulls.

In some traditions this celebration / festival / observation was originally the entire month of October. The Spain missionaries were quite shocked at the behavior of the natives Aztecs (eating the sugar skulls and praying to the dead) which they believed to be Satanic; they attempted to eliminate the celebration, but could not do it. Instead the traditional was “absorbed" into the “All Saint’s Day” celebration and it continues to this day.

It is so popular that a video game was created by LucasArts, called "Grim Fandango", that mixes the Day Of The Dead traditions and imagery with 1940's American film noir.

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3. Jack O' Lantern

The Jack O’ Lantern is based on an Irish folktale. The traditional legend is that there was a man named Stingy Jack who made a deal with, and then tricked, the devil (he got the devil to climb a tree and then placed crosses around the trunk so he couldn’t get down).

When Sting Jack died, heaven would not take him because of the deal with the devil; and Hell would not take him because of the trick he played on the devil.

So he was cursed to wander the darkness alone with only a single candle to guide him. He put the candle in an emptied out turnip to help it stay lit.

When the Irish came over to America in the 19th century, they brought the tradition with them, but pumpkins were far more plentiful than turnips and they began using them instead of turnips.

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4. Costumes

The tradition of the Halloween costumes are based on the Old World superstitions of pre-Christian religions such as the Celts and the Druids.

The belief was that toward the end of the harvest season (the end of October) which coincided with the end of the year, the veil between the Spirit World and the Living World was extremely thin and the spirits of the dead could cross over into the living world. Since they were without a normal human body they would seek out living humans to possess.

The only way to defend oneself from this was to dress up as an animal so the spirits would be fooled into leaving you alone.

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Do you think of Halloween as Satanic or just a fun holiday?

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5. Samhain

Samhain (pronounced “Saw-Winnot “Sam-Hane”) is another Old World seasonal harvest festival. It takes place at end of the year on most medieval calendars. It is an ancient Gaelic festival that occurs on both October 31st and November 1st. It marks the change of the “light half” (spring and summer) and “dark half” (fall and winter) of the year.

Through the misconception of this “pagan” festival by the early Roman Catholics (much like Dia De los Muertos), Samhain has been misconstrued as an evil demon (sometimes imagined as a pumpkin-headed monster—there has even been a version of this creature in an episode of “The Real Ghostbusters” cartoon and the horror movie franchise “Pumpkinhead”), instead of the end of year observation as it originally was.

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    • Edgar Arkham profile image
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      Edgar Arkham 5 years ago from Modesto, CA

      thanks for reading!

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      Domenick Dicce 5 years ago

      It is always interesting to see how our modern holidays have evolved from so many different cultures and religions.