14 things you didn’t know about Halloween

14 things you didn’t know about HalloweenFrom creepy legends to modern-day traditions, Halloween has a lot more going on than just parties and elaborate makeup.

Below, we take a look at 14 things you didn’t know about Halloween, guts and all.

1. One town in Somerset has a very peculiar tradition

Halloween has various colloquial names up and down the country, but it’s Hinton St George in Somerset that holds the crown for the most disturbing take on Halloween.

‘Punkie night’ comes complete with its own song and set of traditions, including children marching around with jack o’ lanterns, led by a Punkie King and Queen, and threatening anyone who doesn’t give them sweets or money.

2. Liverpool, on the other hand, has an alarming one

Referred to as ‘mischief’ or ‘mizzy’ night in Liverpool, the tradition is to throw uncooked eggs at people, often from a moving car. Worst still, this takes place the night before Halloween – 30th October – meaning visiting mischief victims are totally unsuspecting of their immanent peril. Incoming!

3. Originally, the treats weren’t meant for kids

The history of trick or treating can be traced back to the medieval tradition of ‘souling’, whereby the poor would beg door-to-door for bread and other traditional soul cakes, in exchange for prayers for the dead. The association between door to door begging and Halloween continued into the 1930s in American, when it was banned in 1933.

4. It’s less popular in Britain because of Guy Fawkes’ Night

While this may seem obvious given the proximity of the two events – on 31 October and 5 November respectively – many believe Guy Fawkes’ Night was designed by the Protestant government in Britain, to take the limelight away from the traditionally Catholic celebration.

5. Halloween, you’re saying it wrong

Speaking of which, do you know you’re saying Halloween wrong? The Catholic religion dubs the three day event Hallowmas, and the night before All Saint’s Day is specifically referred to as ‘All Hallow’s Eve’, when lost souls are said to roam the earth looking for salvation.

6. Jack o’ lanterns were originally made from turnips

Forget the warm orange glow of a lit pumpkin, traditionally jack o’ lanterns in Britain were made out of Baldrick’s favourite root vegetable – turnips!

We can imagine that placid yellow-y purple colour well suited a 19th Century interpretation of a death mask.

Pumpkins were only introduced by Irish immigrants in America, as the squash was more readily available to them.

7. Hollywood has banned the use of silly string on Halloween

Due to an increase in silly string related vandalism in the 1990s, in 2004 the Californian government banned the use of the party decoration in Hollywood on Halloween.

There is now a $1000 fine associated with the act.

8. Candy Corn is the Halloween treat of choice in the most number of American states

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups had the most votes overall, though, in this survey.

9. Halloween is the anniversary of the death of Harry Houdini

A famous magician and sceptic of spiritualism, it’s with some irony that Harry Houdini died on Halloween night in 1926, as a result to three blows to the stomach.

10. Samhainophobia is the fear of Halloween

Though we’ve no idea why anyone would find Halloween scary…

11. The traditional dress is that of animal skulls and sheets

In a move towards the utterly terrifying, in many countries traditional dress includes animal skulls or bags covering the head, and a white sheet covering the body. As this picture proves, this tradition was still popular in America in the 1920s.

12. The name jack o’ lantern comes from Irish folklore.

Although we now frequently refer to the decorative piece as a carved pumpkin, its original name of jack o’ lantern is derived from the Irish folk tale, Stingy Jack.

In it, Jack drinks with the devil and convinces him to turn himself into a coin – but Jack’s antics eventually lead to him being banished from Heaven to roam the earth with only a burning coil light for company.

Hence, jack o’ lanterns were created to scare Stingy Jack and other spirits away.

13. Legend has it that on Halloween spirits appear in the form of a number of different animals

Most of these revolve around Wiccan mythology, including traditional animals such as black cats and crows, but also owls, mice, and snakes.

14. Bobbing for apples isn’t just about bagging a fruity snack

Originally, bobbing for apples was conceived to predict who would next get married on Halloween.

The girl who successfully wrapped her chomps around the fruit was destined to find her soulmate soon after!

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