Halloween is a time for the little ghouls, goblins and princesses to come out and play. This story is for all those who have ever wondered where some of the traditions started.
For the classic trick-or-treating tradition, kids dress up and go door to door to beg for candy. According to history.com the idea of dressing up was to scare away ghostly visitors.
A banquet of food was prepared and left outside to keep the unwelcome spirits from entering the home. When people would leave home they would wear masks in hopes that the ghosts would be fooled into thinking of them as one of their own.
In medieval times, there was a tradition of souling. The poor would beg for “soul bread,” and in return they would pray for the patron’s dead.
Guising is the medieval custom of dressing up in costume and receiving food, wine and money. In return, they would sing and tell jokes.
Pranks became one of the favorite past times of young rowdy people in the United Sates in 1920s. With the Great Depression and the down times, Halloween mischief morphed into vandalism and physical violence.
One theory is that community trick-or-treating began to stop the vandalism and the rising cost of the pranks.
After a night of getting a load of candy, many kids and adults engage in the tradition of reciting ghost stories
History and folklore have a long tradition of spirits who come back from the dead to haunt a place or people. Many traditions offer the telling of ghost stories as a way to explain the unexplainable.
Many of the Halloween traditions revolve around the jack-o-lantern. With many folklore traditions there are many variations of the story, but the most traditional story about the jack-o-lantern involves Stingy Jack.
The story tells how Jack tricked the Devil into agreeing to not take his soul when he died. According to the story, when Jack died, God would not let Jack in to Heaven. Jack then went to the Devil, and good to his word, the Devil would not take him and sent him away with a burning coal.
The story ends with Jack wandering the earth with his lump of coal in a carved out turnip as his only light.
There is an Irish tradition where the people make their own scary version of Jack’s lantern to frighten away evil sprits and Stingy Jack.
When the Irish came to America they began using the large pumpkins for jack-o-lanterns, which are much easier to carve than a small turnip.
This Halloween, dress up and send the little ones out trick or treating and carve that pumpkin. Have lots of fun, but remember that Halloween is full of old traditions. Happy Haunting!