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10 spooky and terrifying Halloween facts

Halloween facts

Celebrate Halloween 2019 by learning the history behind some of your favourite Halloween traditions

Halloween is here, and people up and down the country will be celebrating by decorating their houses, trick-or-treating, and scaring themselves silly with horror movies .

There's a fascinating history behind Halloween , as the tradition originates from Pagan religious festivals that celebrated the changing of the seasons and honoured the dead.

Over the years, various new traditions have crept into the Halloween season, and now we associate the day with an all manner of terrifying things.

From black cats and witches to apple bobbing and 'trick-or-treat', here are 10 fascinating Halloween facts to get you in the spooky mood:

1. The Witch

The word “witch” comes from the Old English “wicce” which means “wise woman.”

They used to celebrate the start of the new spiritual year on All Hallows Eve. These wise women were natural healers and teachers and were highly respected individuals way before we were led to believe they were taking part in witchcraft and conjuring up evil spells in their cauldrons...

2. The Black Cat

Black cats have become so associated with witchcraft that animal shelters have taken steps to protect these felines by not allowing them to be adopted on or around this time of year.

3. Pumpkins According to Celtic lore, a miserly old man named Jack O’Lantern used to play tricks on the devil and so was forbidden entrance to either heaven and hell. Instead, Jack was condemned to wander the Earth forever more. He was said to use his lantern to lead people astray from their paths.

The British tradition of carving a scary face into a vegetable was originally done with turnips. Irish Americans started using pumpkins because they were cheaper

4. Bone Fires

During Halloween celebrations, bonfires were lit to ensure the sun would return after the long winter. Often Druid priests would throw the bones of cattle into the flames, and so bone fire became bonfire.

5. Bobbing Apples

Bobbing apples is a popular Halloween tradition. Apples are thrown into a tub of water, and you endeavour to catch one in your mouth as they bob around.

When you have caught one, you peel it carefully, and pass the long strip of peel three times around your head; after which you throw it over your shoulder, and it falls to the ground in the shape of the initial letter of your true love's name.

6. Halloween Fear

Samhainophobia is the fear of Halloween. This fear can also present with other types of phobias like Phasmophobia which is the fear of ghosts; wiccaphobia, the fear of witchcraft; and the fear of darkness, nyctophobia.

7. Witchcraft

As the fear of witchcraft washed over Europe, stray cats that were tended to by old women were also feared to be witches in disguise.

Single, elderly women were accused not only of witchcraft, but also of being able to actually transform themselves into black cats.

8. Salem

Salem, where the infamous witch trials were held in the 1690s, claims to be the ‘Halloween’ capital of the world

9. Shades of Halloween

Halloween is traditionally associated with the colours orange and black. Orange because of its link to the fall harvest, and black because of its connection to darkness and death - not forgetting that Samhain, where Halloween comes from, was the celebration of the boundary between life and death.

10. Bats

The bonfires that the ancient Celts built to celebrate Samhain would often attract bats.

They were also feared as people thought that witches would turn into the creatures on All-Hallows Eve.

Happy Halloween!

 

This story was originally published in mirror