So I was going through a bag of some of those mini Kit-Kat bars that you give out to trick-or-treaters on Halloween, $1.99 a pack at Jean Coutu Bit**es, when I figured it’d be pretty ridiculous if I didn’t do a piece for The Howl during Halloween. After tossing around some of those distorted toffee-like things at my brother, the ones you ate when you had no REAL candy left, I decided to go for the classic “History of Halloween” bit.
Yeah, so you did it in grade school when you were the fat kid at the back of the class that no one liked, but I bet you need a refresher. After extensive research and about 12 mini-rockets later, I found out, not only the history of Halloween, but that I don’t handle sugar very well anymore.
Believe it or not, Halloween is actually over 2,500 years old and can trace its history back to an ancient Celtic holiday called Samhain in the 5th century BC. Pronounced Sah-Ween, it took place at sundown on Oct. 31 and included a Feast of the Dead honouring deceased loved ones.
About a thousand years later it developed into something resembling the classic Halloween that we all know today. It became known as All-hallow-even, until the popular youth culture with their wild hair, stringed instruments and underwear shortened it to Halloween. It took place on the eve of All Hallows’ Day, no relation to the last Harry Potter book, and became a day for Pagan religious keggers.
Various European cultures eventually came to agree that Halloween was a time when spirits could make contact with the physical world, obviously after some serious booze handling.
It had been a purely Pagan thing until Popes Gregory the Third and Fourth moved the Christian holiday of All Saints’ Day from May 13 to Nov. 1 so Christians could get in on the Halloween fun and they could say the parties were their own idea.
It was at this time that Trick-or-Treating was invented. It used to be called “souling” and beggars would go from house to house asking for “soul cakes” – which were square pieces of bread with raisins on them (sounds better than the toffee-things). For each cake that the beggar would get, he would promise to say a prayer for the dead relatives of the donors.
During a typical Halloween men, women and children would put out all the fires in their homes and dress up as ghoulish creatures to scare away any spirits looking to possess living bodies.
Halloween bonfires used to be called “bone fires” (too easy) and men and women would dress up like ghosts and toss meat bones onto the fire as offerings to the spirits.
Eventually, Halloween became more of a Western fun-loving holiday, rather than the spooky pagan holiday of the past.
It now gives us such party favorites as girls dressing up like Paris Hilton, dogs dressed up as bride and groom (hah! It’s funny ’cause they’re animals!) and guys dressing up like Paris Hilton.
Some not-so spooky Halloween Statistics:
Before settling in America, the Irish used turnips for Jack-O-Lanterns. (Can you imagine carving a turnip!?)
Prize money for having the largest pumpkin can be up to $25,000 dollars at some fall festivals in the United States. The current record setting pumpkin weighed 1,446 pounds.
Orange and black became Halloween colors because orange is associated with harvests and black is associated with death.
Of all fruits and vegetables, pumpkin is the best source of vitamin A. Half a cup of the stuff has more than three times the recommended daily requirement (I’m still not touching it).
Halloween has an estimated $1.93 billion in candy sales (“First comes the sugar, then comes the power, then comes the women.” – Homer J. Simpson).
The world’s fastest time to carve a face into a pumpkin is 54.72 seconds, by Stephen Clarke (USA) on Oct . 23, 2001
(source: Guinness World Records)
Yeah, but how fast can he carve a turnip?