Monday, October 31, 2011

7 Historical Halloween Facts

1 – Halloween dates back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, approximately 2000 years ago. This day symbolized the end of warm weather and the beginning of winter, which was also associated with human death. It seems that in the night of October 31 ghosts returned on earth and they would cause damage. Celtics actually set places at the table for their dead relatives to celebrate this day.

2 – There are several superstitions on Halloween: avoid crossing paths with black cats, walking under ladders, avoid breaking mirrors, and stepping on cracks in the road. Their origins are probably from the Middle Ages.

3 – There are other traditions besides trick-or-treat, and a lot of the rituals on Halloween were focused on divination and seeing the future. It was a popular practice to try to see your future husband in the mirror on Halloween through different rituals and plan whether you are getting married in the next year. For example, in 18 century a matchmaking cook buried a ring in her mashed potatoes while hoping it would bring true love to the person who found it.

4 – In Scotland, fortune-tellers advised young women to name hazelnuts for each of their suitors and then toss them into the fireplace. The nut that burned to ashes represented the name of the future husband. Different stories show an opposite meaning, the nut that burned to ashes symbolized a love that won’t survive. Other rituals included women drinking certain concoctions that would lead them to dream their husband on Halloween night.

5 – In Ireland and Scotland people made versions of Jack’s lanterns by carving faces into turnips or potatoes. They placed them to windows or near doors hoping that they would scare away Singy Jack and other spirits.

6 – Soul cakes are served on Halloween and they represent the soul of the person that will be freed from Purgatory. This tradition has been around since the Middle Ages. The cakes are usually filled with nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, raisins, and currants and marked with a cross. They are combined with wine as an offering for the dead, traditionally on All Saints Day.

7 – A game played on Halloween in the 1900s was one involving walnut shells; people wrote fortunes in milk on white paper which was placed in walnut shells after drying. When the shell was warmed, the milk turned brown and the writing appeared. Another game involved symbols being cut out of paper and placed on a platter; then somebody entered a dark room and had to put their hand on a piece of ice then lay it on the platter. The fortune (paper symbols) of the person would stick on their hand.



  1. I should buy a hazelnut and burn it to see my fortune with quiet angel..but I am not in Scotland..hehehe..I have always believed on broken mirrors and breaking any glass unintentionally..I have broken my cup when I was in highschool unintentionally so they say brake another I did..and that was the same time my Mom and my relatives had a vehicle accident..though no one was hurt from them on I have believed it..

    soul cakes..that's new..passing by Andreea ;)awooooo witchy hihihi ;0

  2. Very interesting facts...i wouldn't mind a recipe for 'Soul cake' - I may need it!

  3. hi andreea, i will burn 10 hazelnuts with 1 name only. that way, is is to ensure he's really mine ha ha ha .
    hope you had a great time- wonder what costume you wore

  4. I have heard of some of it Andreea esp in point 1, breaking of mirrors, black cat etc etc. We Indians also strongly believe in these but I have learned to let go as I really don't want my thoughts been clouded with such superstitious beliefs.

  5. Today 2011,some Chinese in Malaysia still practice #1 above.

    Their priest will set a date when the deceased will make a final visit from down under, (few days after burial)taking along her/his friends too, to proudly introduce the family on earth.

    Family members will gather on this date, spread the table with all the deceased favourite food, fill up the rice pot etc..

    Have a great day!

  6. Interesting, i am going to burn 10 hazelnuts with 2 names to see who is realy mine and who is playing. The history topics are always interesting. Black cat story is famous in asia.

  7. Thanks everybody for your comments, I really hope you all had a wonderful Halloween! :D
    Sie, perhaps that was just an unfortunate coincidence.
    Jasna, I can find the recipe for you if you want :D
    Wan, I would probably do the same :D
    Nava K and Katrina, the traditions you are both talking about are absolutely fascinating. I agree Nava K, superstitions are beautiful as cultural symbols but it is best to detach ourselves from such beliefs. Katrina, we have that practice too at certain times after a person dies (1 week, 3 weeks, one year, etc)
    Sarang Mangi, wow that's a really good idea :D Thanks!

  8. The soul cake actually sounds like it could be yummy :) I love cake with raisins!

  9. Fun facts! I am catholic, so we call this all Souls Day and then celebrate the next day in Mass for All Saints Day. I remember soul cakes when I was younger....

    BTW I can't believe I missed several posts...sorry! I've subscribed via Google Follower!