(This video is an excellent synopsis of the History of Halloween!)
The bridge between Autumn and Winter, plenty and scarcity, life and death, Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition.
There are some key things here that your kids may not know about Halloween:
#1 The Observance of Halloween Is Over 2000 Years Old
It is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts.
#2 The Festival Was Originally Called Hallowe’en
Hallowe’en is a contraction of “All Hallows’ Evening”, also known as All Hallows’ Eve. This celebration is held on the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day. In the eighth century,
Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints’ Day, incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain.
The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween which of course we celebrate yearly on October 31.
#3 Let’s Go Carve a Turnip?
The origins of the jack-o’-lantern are uncertain, but are widely believed to have been popularized by legend in Ireland, where turnips or beets were supposedly used.
Tradition dictated huge bonfires be built in fields, and it was believed that fairy spirits lurked in the shadows. To distract these spirits from settling into houses and farms, people would carve grotesque faces to represent spirits or goblins, into large turnips, and set candles inside. The turnip lanterns would rest along roadways and next to gates, to both light the way for travelers and caution any passing fairies against invading.
The immigrants to North America used the native pumpkin, which is both much softer and much larger – making it easier to carve than a turnip. Subsequently, the mass marketing of various size pumpkins in autumn, in both the corporate and local markets, has made pumpkins readily available for this purpose.
#4 Jack-O-Lantern… Where does that come from?
The phrase “jack o’lantern” has its roots in Irish folklore. According to legend, “Stingy Jack” was a drunken miser who made a couple bad bets with the Devil during his life. One of the bets resulted in the Devil promising never to send old Jack to Hell. As it turned out, Jack was not let into Heaven, and the Devil kept his promise. Jack was doomed to wander Earth for eternity with only his lantern, a large carved turnip, to light his way.
#5 What is Trunk-or Treating?
A popular variant of trick-or-treating, known as trunk-or-treating (or Halloween tailgaiting), occurs when “children are offered treats from the trunks of cars parked in a church parking lot,” or sometimes, a school parking lot. In a trunk-or-treat event, the trunk (boot) of each automobile is decorated with a certain theme, such as those of children’s literature, movies, scripture, and job roles. Trunk-or-treating has grown in popularity due to its perception as being more safe than going door to door, a point that resonates well with parents.
On a personal not: As a little girl growing up I must admit….I did not like Halloween! What kids doesn’t like Halloween you may ask! Well it seemed like every costume that I wore was too long…I fell down… and spilled my candy plus came home with an empty candy bucket (or one significantly less full than my little brother’s!) and my knees were scraped and bloody. Geeeezzz…what’s to like about that? Then on top of all that, my Dad who had a job as a traveling feed salesman, insisted on setting an example of being generous by encouraging (no that would be INSISTING) that we kept only a small portion of our Halloween candy – he took the bulk of it on his next route for the kids who lived in rural areas. He said they didn’t get to go “trick or treating” based on the fact that they lived too far out in the country to make it feasible. I know now as an adult that the act of sharing our Halloween candy was not only for his customer’s kids but also to teach us that blessings are meant to be shared. It was a lesson that I remember to this day.
Open up a line of communication with your kids.
Who might you encourage your children to share with? Perhaps kids confined to a hospital or someone in your circle of influence that you feel you can bless.
We can teach our children lessons of compassion and sharing through any holiday experience.
Have a Happy & Safe Halloween Everyone!
OUR PUMPKIN THIS YEAR -2015!
Cinderella in the house!
Sources and other places for more info: