Origins of Halloween
Halloween (or Hallowe’en) is an annual holiday observed on October 31, with its roots in the Celtic festival of Samhain and the Christian holiday All Saints’ Day. Today it is largely a secular celebration. Secular and commercial.
Historian Nicholas Rogers, exploring the origins of Halloween, notes that while “some folklorists have detected its origins in the Roman feast of Pomona, the goddess of fruits and seeds, or in the festival of the dead called Parentalia, it is more typically linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain, whose original spelling was Samuin (pronounced sow-an or sow-in)”. The name is derived from Old Irish and means roughly “summer’s end”.
The ancient Celts believed that the border between this world and the Otherworld became thin on Samhain, allowing spirits (both harmless and harmful) to pass through. The family’s ancestors were honoured and invited home while harmful spirits were warded off. It is believed that the need to ward off harmful spirits led to the wearing of costumes and masks. Their purpose was to disguise oneself as a harmful spirit and thus avoid harm.
History of ‘Halloween’
The word is first seen in the 16th century and represents a Scottish variant of the fuller All-Hallows-Even (“evening”), that is, the night before All Hallows Day. Up through the early 20th century, the spelling “Hallowe’en” was frequently used. Although the phrase All Hallows is found in Old English, All-Hallows-Even is itself not seen until 1556.
The Kitchen Knife Killer – Michael Meyers in Halloween
The image at the head of this post shows the character Michael Meyers who first appeared in the original John Carpenter directed Halloween in 1978. (Although this specific shot is a from the 2007 remake (sometimes referred to as Halloween 9, directed by the aptly named Rob Zombie).
The character, who has a penchant for dispatching his victims with a wide-bladed kitchen knife, went on to appear in nine of the ten Halloween franchise of slasher horror movies.
Halloween Movie Trivia
- The mask used in the original 1978 movie was adapted from a popular mask at the time – that of William Shatners’ Star Trek character Capt. James T. Kirk. The Kirk mask was painted white and had the eye-holes enlarged.
- The movie was made in just 21 days in 1978 on a very limited budget of just $320,000, half of which was spent on cameras.
- The film was shot in the Spring and used fake leaves to create an appropriate Northern Hemisphere Autumn atmosphere.
- All of the actors wore their own clothes, since there was no money for a costume department. Jamie Lee Curtis went to J.C. Penney for her characters’ wardrobe. She spent less than a hundred dollars for the entire set.
- Orange and black are Halloween colors because orange is associated with the Fall harvest and black is associated with darkness and death.
- Jack o’ Lanterns originated in Ireland where people placed candles in hollowed-out turnips to keep away spirits and ghosts on the Samhain holiday.
- Pumpkins also come in white, blue and green. Great for unique monster carvings!
- Halloween was brought to North America by immigrants from Europe who would celebrate the harvest around a bonfire, share ghost stories, sing, dance and tell fortunes.
- Tootsie Rolls were the first wrapped penny candy in America.
- The ancient Celts thought that spirits and ghosts roamed the countryside on Halloween night. They began wearing masks and costumes to avoid being recognized as human.
- Halloween candy sales average about 2 billion dollars annually in the United States.
- Chocolate candy bars top the list as the most popular candy for trick-or-treaters with Snickers #1.
- Halloween is the 2nd most commercially successful holiday, with Christmas being the first.
- Bobbing for apples is thought to have originated from the roman harvest festival that honors Pamona, the goddess of fruit trees.
- Black cats were once believed to be witch’s familiars who protected their powers.
BlaBla Blog Post Trivia
- This is, by some bizarre coincidence, post #666 made here.