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Halloween Myths Debunked: Learn about Halloween history

Updated on October 16, 2014
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Jeff Johnston is a medieval reenactor and avid history fan. He is also the publisher at Living History Publications.

Jack O'Lantern, a common Halloween Decoration
Jack O'Lantern, a common Halloween Decoration | Source

Scariest Day of The Year

Halloween is a holiday that celebrates the frightful side of human nature. As such, its not surprising that a host of urban legends have sprung up to terrify us further. In this lens I will be examining some of the more common myths surrounding this holiday and debunking them to lay your fears to rest, and perhaps you can learn some more about Halloween history.

Halloween is a Pagan Rite Worshipping Demons from Hell

There is a common belief from some Christian groups that Halloween is a devil worshiping rite celebrating the Celtic god of the dead named Samhain, who obviously is actually a demon from hell.

The first and most obvious problem with this myth is that a being cannot possibly be both a Celtic god AND a demon from hell. Hell is a construct of the Judeo-Christianity group of religions, and Celtic gods were a completely different religious grouping. Of course if you are Christian and follow certain beliefs then there is only one god all other gods are false creations by Satan to lead people astray. I will not say this is not true, but even if it is there is still a problem with the myth that Halloween is a Satanic ritual.

Samhain, of Celtic tradition, is not a god at all, but rather a holiday, the fall celebration of the harvest. There is no god in the celtic pantheon known as Samhain. The myth originated in a manuscript from 1770's before there were reliable translations of celtic mythos. This myth is purely about demonizing celtic beliefs as devil worship.

The Poisoned Apple

This one deals with poisoned Candy being handed out by bad bad folks on a random basis to cull those pesky children. Fortunately this is a myth of epic proportions. There has never been a case like this. There have been poisoned candy handed out at Halloween, but in the few isolated cases its been targeted attempts to hurt or kill specific people(s).

Now this isn't to say you shouldn't be safe with Halloween treats, but there is no reason to be paranoid.

Razors in Candy

Unlike the poisoned candy myth this one is not actually a myth. Yes, bad people have put razors and other sharp implements in candy during Halloween. That being said its a rare occasion and not the norm. This myth is perpetuated as a norm in order to scare children in the guise of keeping them safe. Not that I disagree with the tactic, candy handed out by strangers to a child should always be checked by a parent.

In truth, more often than not the so called "intended victim" is more often the one who put the offending object in the sweet treat in the first place. In other words the person reporting the razor, pin or other dangerous object in the treat is the person who put it there. Usually this is done to get attention.

Halloween is Sex Offenders Christmas

The myth basically plays on our fears that pedophiles hide behind every bush just waiting to snatch our children. Luckily to date there has never been a single incident of child molestation during trick or treating. This doesn't mean I am recommending you tell your children entering strangers homes and doing whatever they ask of them during the halloween festivities is a good idea, but rather that your nerves should be calmed a tad.

Halloween Mysticism

The following is simply a list of amusing beliefs about the power of Halloween:

  1. Bread for the Dead: You should always carry a heel of bread on Halloween as an offering to the dead.

  2. Ward Knot Effective: Tie a knot in your handkerchief to ward off evil

  3. Light up the night: If an unmarried girl carries a lamp to a spring of water on Halloween she will see her future husband in the reflection.

  4. Footsteps of Doom: If you hear footsteps behind you on Halloween don't look back its the dead stocking you and if you see them you will die in the near future.

  5. I see dead people: A person born on Halloween will have the power to see and speak with dead spirits.

Did you learn something new about halloween history?

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© 2012 Jeff Johnston

Do you love Halloween?

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    • theallin1writer profile image


      6 years ago

      We don't really celebrate Halloween in South Africa - not in the "trick or treating" way. Costume parties, sure, but it is a rather dull affair in comparison to other countries. I have always been envious of the way you guys do it! Sigh... :)

    • Zodiacimmortal profile image


      6 years ago from Yonkers, NY

      Halloween is my Favorite lens.. I've added this to my 13 Frights of halloween lens (still currently a WIP but plan to post soon. (just need to figure out what I'm going to do with a couple of sections)


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