Your Halloween Jack-O-Information

How did Halloween come to be?

Despite celebrating Halloween since being a little kid, dressing up in my ninja turtle, pirate, batman and spiderman costumes, I have never really understood the meaning behind Halloween…until now.

The name: Halloween is a variation of the name “All Hallow’s Eve”. “Hallow’s Day”, or All Saints Day, which takes place on November 1st, is a Western Christianity day of honoring the saints, and “All Hallow’s Eve” simply means the night before this date.

This History:However, most historians attest the celebration to the Celtic celebration of Samhain. Samhain marks the end of Summer (light season) and the beginning of Winter (dark seasons). Many Celtics believed that on this day, the spiritual world opened up to those who had lost their lives that year to find new bodies to dwell in. According to some, this fear of being possessed led to many people dressing up as ghosts and ghouls and being loud and boisterous around the cities. This was done to scare these spirits elsewhere, leaving the people of that area free from being possessed.

Reasons behind traditions: There are many traditions associated with Halloween, from pumpkin carving to trick or treating. Lets get behind some of the reasoning to these traditions.

Pumpkin Carving: Carving pumpkins, or “Jack-O-Lanterns“, originated from an old Irish myth about Stingy Jack. According to the myth, Stingy Jack convinced the devil to have a drink with him. Since Jack was stingy, he did not have enough money to pay for the drinks and convinced the devil to turn into a coin so that he could pay. The devil agreed and became a silver coin. Jack put the coin into his pocket next to¬† his silver cross which prevented the devil from turning back into his regular form. Jack eventually freed him though under the agreement that the devil would not bother him for a full year. A year later, Jack again convinced the devil to climb a tree to grab a piece of fruit. After the devil had climbed the tree, Jack carved a cross into the tree, now preventing him from coming back down. Jack then allowed the devil back down as long as he did not bother Jack for 10 years. Shortly afterwards, Jack died. Jack was denied entry into Heaven, and because the anger and agreement that the devil had made with Jack, he was denied entry into Hell as well. The devil did however give Jack a burning coal to find his way in the darkness. Jack put this coal into a carved turnip so it would not get extinguished. These carved turnips became known as Jack of the Lanterns, which has now become Jack-‘O-Lanterns. People began carving scary faces into the turnips and placed them into their windows to ward off Jack and the devil. This tradition eventually transferred into pumpkins, especially in Western society since pumpkins were more easily available and softer, allowing easier carving.

Trick or Treating: The ritual of trick-or-treating is actually a little more complicated since it can possibly be traced back to a couple of different sources. The most common source for the act of going from door to door goes back to Ireland and Britain during the Middle Ages as the practice of “souling”. Souling was done by the underpriveleged people of the time who would offer up prayers for the dead on All Saints Day in return for food. This eventually combined with everyone dressing up to become what we know today as trick-or-treating!

Halloween has become on of the most recognized and exciting Holidays of the year. It is a time to get dressed up, see everyone in your neighborhood and most importantly, to get candy….lots of it! We hope this blog has helped you understand the history of Halloween and if you are needing any Autumn, Halloween or even Thanksgiving or Christmas flags, please check out FlagExpressions.com. Enjoy this upcoming Holiday season and we appreciate your business and loyalty.