Halloween has long been associated with images of witches, ghosts, black cats and vampires dating back to Celtic rituals thousands of years ago. Today, Halloween traditions have evolved into a celebration observed with kid-friendly activities, such as fall festivals, haunted houses, corn mazes, trick-or-treating, costumes and carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns.
Exploring some of these Halloween traditions with your children can help them learn a little bit about the origins of this autumn holiday. A trip to your local grocery store, farmer’s market or local farm is a fun place to start. Take a trip with the purpose of focusing on the seasonal items available and take note of the fun decorations too. While shopping at stores, encourage them to find common things that they observe during Halloween, like jack-o’-lanterns, corn stalks, candy and costumes. When you get home, discuss why we see these items in October. The conversation can open up a lot of questions, so be prepared. We’ve done a little research for you and found 13 facts about Halloween traditions for your family to explore this year.
Halloween Facts and Traditions
1. Halloween is a shortening of the words “All Hallows’ Evening.”
2. Halloween dates back to the ancient Celtic holiday of Samhain. Beginning thousands of years ago, the Celts would mark the end of the harvest season and beginning of winter on this day and also believed that the seasonal transition was a bridge to the world of the dead.
3. Ireland is typically believed to be the birthplace of Halloween. The tradition spread across the world after the Irish immigrated due to the potato famine.
4. Trick-or-treating evolved from the ancient Celtic tradition of putting out treats and food to placate spirits who roamed the streets at Samhain.
5. Costumes are worn because it was believed that the worlds between the living and the dead were the thinnest on October 31st and ghosts could walk the earth for that one night only. People wore masks and costumes to avoid being recognized as humans.
6. Using pumpkins as jack-o’-lanterns is a Celtic custom intended to welcome home the spirits of deceased ancestors while also warding off evil spirits and the restless soul of “Stingy Jack.”
7. Turnips, potatoes and beets were originally carved in Ireland and England.
8. The heaviest pumpkin recorded weighed 2,624.6lbs.
9. The average pumpkin has 500 seeds.
10. The trick-or-treating for candy tradition began in the United States over 100 years ago and has spread to Canada, Australia and Western Europe.
11. In Ireland, rural neighborhoods light bonfires and children play snap apple, which is a game where apples hang from the trees or door frame and children try to take a bite from it.
12. Many of our Halloween superstitions have roots in the Middle Ages. For instance, concerns about black cats came from a time when many people believed witches avoided detection by turning into black cats.
13. Orange and black, colors typically associated with Halloween, have deeper meanings: orange is a symbol of strength and endurance, while black is typically a symbol of darkness.
A trip to the library or bookstore will give you a chance to do a little research with your children too. Allow them to explore their interest in specific traditions of Halloween. You might be surprised what they will want to discover. Don’t forget Halloween is for all ages, parents. Enjoy their imaginations! Wishing you a safe and memorable Halloween!