CHARLOTTE, NC – October is officially upon us as a reminder that the clock will soon be back to normal. Better yet, brisk sales of make-up, costumes and “fun size” candy confections will boost the nation’s economy. Which the economy certainly can use. Furthermore, Halloween, now the second most celebrated day in the US, is on the horizon, making it a “tricky treat” for Myth Trivia.
Halloween has many different names; All Hallows Eve, Samhain, All Hallowtide, The Feast of the Dead, Haloween and All Saints Eve.
In fact, a “hallow” is a saint or someone who is holy, which is how we derive the terms “All Saint’s Eve” or “All Hallow’s Eve.”
If we carry the etymology further, we see that the longer form of “All Hallow’s Eve” is actually “All Hallow’s Evening.” In Scotland “eve” is “even”, but the “V” fell away along with the “All” and the “S” to give us “Halloween.”
To be absolutely precise, Halloween should be spelled “hallowe’en. ”
Halloween’s Pagan Roots
All Hallows Eve’s origins were a pagan celebration dating back more than 2000 years to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred and on October 31, the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. This led to the tradition of wearing masks in an effort to hide from the dead.
As for Halloween’s colors of Orange and Black, orange represents the fall harvest while black marks the onset of the darkness of winter.
Irish immigrants brought the traditions of Halloween and the use of Jack-O-Lanterns to America in the 1800s.
Back then, lanterns were carved from a turnip, potato or beet and lit with a burning lump of coal or a candle. The coal or candle represented the souls of departed loved ones. The lanterns were placed in windows or set on porches to welcome the deceased. They also served as protection against malevolent spirits freed from the dead.
Since turnips and gourds were not as readily available in the Americas the pumpkin was used as a replacement.
Trick or Treat
As for “trick or treat”, the phrase is believed to have been first used in Canada. The Herald in Lethbridge, Alberta described the children’s “piracy” this way on November 4, 1927:
“The youthful tormentors were at back door and front demanding edible plunder by the word “trick or treat” to which the inmates gladly responded and sent the robbers away rejoicing.”
Historically, one possible origin for the practice of Trick-or-Treat may come from the Druids who believed the dead would play tricks on mankind, causing panic and destruction. They had to be appeased, so country folk would give the Druids food as they visited their homes.
Superstition also plays a significant role in Halloween such as black cats, full moons or having a Friday the 13th in October.
Friday the 13th
Any month that begins on a Sunday will contain a Friday the 13th. Every year has at least one and some may have as many as three Fridays the 13th.
There has been no historical date identified as the origin of the superstition. Before the 20th century, although there is evidence that the number 13 was considered unlucky, and Friday was considered unlucky, however, there was no link between them.
In fact, Friday the 13th doesn’t even merit a mention in E. Cobham Brewer’s 1898 edition of the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. Brewer has an entry for “Friday, an Unlucky Day” and “Thirteen Unlucky” but no combination of the two.
There actually is a condition for people afflicted with an irrational fear of Friday the 13th that is known as “paraskevidekatriaphobia” which, believe it or not, is said to affect some 17-million people. Just the word itself is scary enough, much less the affliction.
October escaped this year since Friday the 13th occurred last month and will again in December. Just in case you’re wondering, the next time a full moon will occur during Halloween will be 2020, just in time for the presidential election.
A few other miscellaneous Halloween notes include bobbing for apples that the Romans introduced after they invaded Britain. At that time, it was a festival game called apple ducking, duck apple or dooking.
Halloween’s sweet side
As for Halloween candy (come back next week for a full report on Halloween sweets), chocolate dominates first place by a wide margin while candy corn is second.
Less known, however, is that the Goelitz Confectionery Company sold boxes of candy corn with a rooster on the front in order to appeal to America’s agricultural roots. It was originally called “chicken feed.”
OK, listen up all you Uber drivers, only New Year’s Eve and the Super Bowl top Halloween for parties. Also, chances are good that you’ll pick up a witch since they get the nod for the most popular costume.
During the middle ages, mummies were ground up to make medicine because they were thought to have healing properties.
Centuries later, during the 19th century, mummies were bought for parties where they would be unwrapped and examined by the guests.
Bram Stoker’s original name for Dracula was Count Wampyr. He changed the name after he borrowed the book An Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia from the library in Whitby in 1890 during his summer vacation.
On another note, the first vampire story written in English, The Vampyre by Lord Byron’s physician is for a competition.
And finally, the famed magician and illusionist, Harry Houdini, left the mortal coil on Halloween night in 1926. Cause of death from peritonitis caused by a ruptured appendix. Numerous contradicting reports creating a mystery surrounding his death.
Don’t be “disillusioned” however, it’s all just part of the “magic” of Halloween.
About the Author: Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor is an award-winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is the founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
Editors Note: Support Bob’s GoFundMe to give him a hand up
Cat in front of Moon -free image from Pixabay