Where Your Favorite Halloween Traditions Come From
Did you know that bobbing for apples was designed to point you to the person you'll marry? Find out how this and four major Halloween traditions came to be. 🎃👻
The tradition lives on
Halloween has some famous customs — but where do they come from?
Wearing Masks - Going out on Halloween wearing masks dates back to the Ancient Celts. In Celtic mythology, the divide between the worlds of the living and dead was most fragile on Samhain — the summer’s end festival Halloween is based on. To hide themselves from spirits and demons, people took to wearing masks — a tradition brought to the U.S. by Irish and Scottish migrants.
Jack O Lanterns - The first jack 'o lanterns were carved in Ireland out of turnips — not pumpkins — and were inspired by the Irish folk legend of Stingy Jack. After tricking the devil into letting him keep his soul after he died, Jack was doomed to roam the Earth with only a lump of coal inside a carved turnip to light his way. Jack 'o lanterns appeared in the U.S. in the 1800s, but carved pumpkins were used as a symbol of the fall harvest long before Halloween.
Apple Bobbing - Apple bobbing is in fact meant to point you to the person you will marry. After the Romans introduced the apple tree to Britain, the practice was born from a combination of Roman and Celtic rituals: Unmarried youths would try to bite into an apple floating in water for permission to marry. Unmarried women were expected to mark an apple and toss it into floating water — and whoever bit the fruit was fated to love them.
Trick or Treating - Trick or Treating dates back to the 1920s in North America. But in Medieval England, “Soulers” would go door-to-door begging rich people for “soul cakes” — in exchange for a treat, they would pray for their souls. The first use of the word trick-or-treats appeared in the U.S. in 1932, and after the sugar rationing of WWII, candy companies made a huge marketing push to be the de facto treat for Halloween.