Halloween is a celebration observed in a number of countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day. It begins the three-day observance of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed.
The word Halloween or Hallowe’en dates to about 1745 and is of Christian origin. The word “Hallowe’en” means “hallowed evening” or “holy evening”. It comes from a Scottish term for All Hallows’ Eve (the evening before All Hallows’ Day). In Scots, the word “eve” is even, and this is contracted to e’en or een. Over time, (All) Hallow(s) E(v)en evolved into Hallowe’en. Although the phrase “All Hallows'” is found in Old English “All Hallows’ Eve” is itself not seen until 1556.
1. Women used to play games on Halloween to find out what their future husband would be like.
It’s quite weird and unusual that for many women in the early 20th century, Halloween was about finding love.
Games like Snap Apple were popular, in which participants could only use their teeth to bite into an apple suspended from a stick — and the first one to succeed would marry.
Women also used to toss apple skins over their shoulders, hoping the scraps would land on the floor in the shape of their future husband’s initials.
2. Bobbing for apples dates back to an ancient Roman festival called “Ponoma.”
One thing to know that when the Roman Empire overtook the Celts around 43 A.D., they combined their traditions with those of Samhain.
The second day of their new year festivities was “Ponoma,” meant to honor the eponymous goddess of fruits and trees — which explains bobbing for (and eating) apples around this time of year.
During the 18th century, “bobbing” rose in popularity in the British empire— and was yet another way to flirt with a potential mate. Despite a brief wane in popularity, the game was revived by the Irish when they immigrated to America.
3. The holiday became increasingly youth-oriented thanks to the 1950s baby boom.
By the time the 1950s hit, American communities had succeeded in removing the taboo from Halloween — including vandalism, which had previously run rampant on October 31.
The baby boom of the ’50s also made the holiday more family-oriented, and Halloween parties began to move to school classrooms and homes. Trick-or-treating was also revived around this time, and has been steadily practiced since.
4. The popularity of lighting fires on Devil’s Night can be traced to 1980s Detroit.
Devil’s Night — the night before Halloween that induces mischief of all sorts — became associated with arson because of a surge of Detroit fires in the 1980s.
The Detroit Tigers won the World Series in October of 1984, which ignited over 297 “celebratory” fires. There were also repeated acts of arson in the city the year before — but the fires of 1984 were “the worst fires since the riots of 1967,” according to a Detroit Fire Department chief.
After that, the country — especially Detroit — saw a rise in Devil’s Night fires. Detroit even renamed the holiday Angel’s Night to combat the debauchery.
5. Owls are also creatures associated with Halloween
As Roman armies marched North they brought their beliefs with them. The English adopted much of their owl folklore from their Roman conquerors. For them, the owl was a sinister creature. It hunted in the night, a time closely associated with death and evil. Many early cultures were scared of the night as humans have relatively poor night eyesight. Any creature that was nocturnal was automatically a creature associated with evil.
They too would hang a dead owl from their barn doors to ward off evil spirits and believed that if an owl “hooted” while flying past the window of a sick person it meant imminent death. In Ireland owls were considered unlucky. If an owl flew into your home lore dictated that you must kill it immediately. If it was allowed to leave it would take all of the home’s luck with it. It’s interesting to note that in the Northernmost parts of England and Scotland where the Roman armies did not conquer the local inhabitants it was considered good luck to see an owl.
The owl entered into our Halloween traditions much like the bat. As a hunter of bats, owls would often be seen near the Halloween bonfires searching for food as were the bats. Owls frequently scared nighttime travelers as they flew silently and often lived in the hollows of trees where they could not be easily seen. When they screeched it reminded people of the cackling of a witch. An evil creature that moved silently, hunted at night, and sounded like a witch it was natural that they associate the owl with Halloween.
6. Real fear of Halloween — it’s called samhainophobia.
The root word takes us back to the ancient Celts who held a ceremony called Samhain in order to honor the harvest cycle. Each October 31, the harvest would end, and the Irish would gather to kill livestock. Often, they would throw the animal’s bones onto a roaring bonfire. The people who attended Samhain believed that the dead made their presence known during the festival, and that they must be appeased or else they would cause trouble and hardship for the townspeople. They began to wear masks and other disguises to please the spirits.
Samhainophobia isn’t synonymous with simply disliking Halloween (as many people do); it’s a clinically diagnosed phobia, much like arachnophobia, the fear of spiders, or coimetrophobia, the fear of cemeteries.
It sometimes presents itself with related phobias, including phasmophobia, the fear of ghosts; wiccaphobia, the fear of witchcraft; and nyctophobia, the fear of darkness.
7. The name “Halloween” is an ultra-condensed version of “All Hallow’s Eve.”
According to Merriam-Webster, the name “Halloween” originally comes from All Hallow’s 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 Hallow’s Eve was also referred to as All Hallow’s 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.
SOURCE – insider