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Halloween: Facts and Fallacies

All over the Western world, Halloween has been growing in popularity as a neighbourhood event and the trend has caught on in Western Australia over the last decade.

1. Origin of Halloween
Originally known as “Samhain” which means “end of summer”, this celebration dates back to almost 200 years ago and marks the Celtic New Year. Many of its costumes were from Irish folklore and Gaelic beliefs.

2. Jack O Lantern
Halloween is often associated with pumpkins and their famous carving of “Jack O Lantern”. Interestingly, “Jack O Lantern” was originally a turnip. The tragic story was one of Stingy Jack who was turned down by both Heaven and Hell – so he roamed purgatory with a lit up carved turnip and a lump of coal.

3. Trick or Treat Costumes
Since this is the start of spring and the end of winter, symbolising both life and death, Celtics believe that the lines of life and death are blurred during Halloween – thus allowing spirits to roam freely on earth.

4. Bonfires
The word “bonfire” actually means bones and fire. In All over Europe and Britain, a large gathering of people were held over a huge fire where sacrifices of personal artefacts and animals were performed by Druids, Celtic priests. These sacred embers were then brought home to fireplaces to keep the houses warm and safe from evil.

5. All Saints Day
In the 8th century, Pope Gregory 111 dedicated November 1st as All Saints Day in honour to respect those who have passed away. The day before began to be known as Hallow’s Eve which was later called “Halloween”.

How did this celebration become so popular in Australia? In the 1800s, Halloween was celebrated in America more as a community day event where parties where thrown to foster neighbourly get-togethers. Parents were encouraged to remove frightening and grotesque resemblances out of these parties. Australia quickly caught on this tradition and today, many suburbs participate in this event to encourage the community bond.

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