Happy Halloween

Halloween, celebrated every year on the 31st October, is filled with activities such as carving pumpkins, wearing costumes, trick-or-treating, and eating lots of sweets!

But, how well do you know your Halloween history?

The Halloween tradition originated with the Celtic festival of Samhain. A celebration to mark the end of summer and harvest, and to welcome in ‘the dark half of the year’, it is believed that barriers between the physical world and the spirit world break down during Samhain, allowing interactions between humans and the ghosts of the dead.

During the festival, celebrants would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory designated 1st November as a time to honour all saints. Soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve – and, eventually, Halloween.

Some people now practice the Christian observances of All Hallows’ Eve, attending church services and lighting candles on the graves of the dead. Earlier Christian traditions included ringing church bells for souls in purgatory, and baking ‘soul cakes’ for all christened souls. Soul cakes are thought to be the start of trick-or-treating!

Fun Facts About Halloween

1. Jack-o’-lantern comes from the Irish legend of Stingy Jack

According to legend, Stingy Jack was a man who kept tricking the Devil. After he convinced the Devil not to take his soul, he died. God wouldn’t let him into Heaven, and the Devil couldn’t allow him into Hell. So, he sent Jack off into the night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as ‘Jack of the Lantern’.

2. The most lit jack-o’-lanterns on display is 30,581

The city of Keene, New Hampshire, over in the USA had the record number of pumpkins lit!

3. The fastest pumpkin-carving time is 16 seconds

Stephen Clarke in the USA has the Guinness World Record for carving the fastest pumpkin – even with a mouth, ears, eyes and nose!

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