October 31 is Halloween. This fun holiday has ancient origins and is one of the oldest holidays on the planet. You know it’s spooky, creepy, and full of candy, but here are 5 things you might not have known about Halloween.
The White House Is Said To Have At Least Five Ghosts
Some say spirits roam the White House. There have been several reports of ghostly appearances and eerie sounds inside the White House. The most common ghost sighting is of Abraham Lincoln who has been spotted by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands and Sir Winston Churchill. Other paranormal guests include Andrew Jackson, David Burns and Abigail Adams.
The Name "Halloween" is A Condensed Version Of "All Hallows' Eve" According to Merriam-Webster, the name "Halloween" originally comes from All Hallows' Eve — the second night of a festival called Samhain, dating back to the pagans in Ireland. "Hallow" comes from an Old English adjective that means "holy," and "eve" refers to the nighttime setting. All Hallows' Eve was also referred to as All Hallows' Even — which was shortened to "Hallow-e'en" by the 16th century. We eventually dropped the apostrophe and dash in the 18th century, and the rest is history.
Halloween Originated From An Ancient Celtic Festival
According to History.com, the Halloween we know today can trace its roots back to the ancient Celtic end-of-harvest festival of Samhain. During Samhain, people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off evil spirits. In the eighth century, in an effort to spread Christianity, Pope Gregory III, divided Samhain into two holidays, All Saints' Day on November 1 and All Souls' Day on November 2. The evening of October 31 became All Hallows Eve or Halloween. Samhain is still celebrated in modern pagan and Wiccan communities as the equivalent of a New Year's holiday that also honors those who have passed on.
Trick or Treating Was Put On Hold During WWII Trick or treating has been part of North American Halloween festivities since the early 20th century but like so many aspects of this holiday, it evolved from an ancient European custom. On All Souls Day, poor people would visit the houses of their wealthier neighbors for a 'soul cake' — a form of shortbread — in return for which the beggars promised to pray for the dead of the household. Known as “souling,” the practice was later taken up by children, who would go from door to door asking for gifts such as food and money. Irish and Scottish communities in the United States revived the tradition, although it was put on hold for several years during WW II due to sugar rationing.
Jack O' Lanterns Scare Off Evil Wandering Spirits Carved pumpkins are an old school tradition, originating in Ireland, Scotland and England, where people carved menacing faces into vegetables and placed a candle inside to scare away the evil wandering spirits. Using pumpkins is an American spin on the ritual – the first lanterns were made from hollowed out turnips.