5 Myths About Halloween and Their Facts


There are many myths about Halloween, but it is time to put the five main ones to rest with their facts. The day commonly linked to the supernatural is tomorrow, and a day that many children will get dressed up for trick-or-treating.

One of the biggest misconceptions is how it was a pagan festival. November 1 is All Saints’ Day for the Christian religion, and Hallowtide was created as a way to countdown to the celebration of the saints and martyrs. There is some disagreement over when Halloween officially started, but it is somewhere between the 7th and 9th centuries. In Britain, it is actually called All Hallows Eve, taken from the Old English phrase meaning “holy man.”

Before the Christian religion became rooted in Britain, the first day of November was known as “Samhain” in Ireland. That means the summer’s end, and simply made a note of when winter was rolling in. It allowed the Gaelic-speaking parts of Britain to focus on their farming needs, and would be when tribal gatherings and cattle slaughtering would take place. It was only in the 19th century that Samhain was popularized as the ancient festival of the dead for the Celts.

The lore and legends surrounding the supernatural occurrences and connotations is not rooted deep in history. Some of the lore comes from the 19th century, and was even developed from fictional works throughout the years. Trick-or-treating became the thing to do in America after the Irish and Scottish setters introduced the Mischief Night custom. In Britain, trick-or-treating only became the thing to do after a range of 1970s movies reached the country.

The fourth of the five Halloween myths and their facts surrounds the use of copious amounts of candy. This links to the fact that the Scottish and Irish settlers brought over their Mischief Night traditions. During the first half of the 1900s, people would enjoy home festivities and food. It was only in the second half of the 1900s that people wanted to put a stop to the mischief. Now they offer candy as the “treat.” Those who do not give the “treat” will get the “trick.” At first, the treats were more like homemade cookies, but the life of the sugar rationing after the Second World War made it possible for friends to hand out candy instead.

There are many who believe that Halloween is a pagan event. It is connected to stories of blood sacrifices and the time for the dead to walk the earth. Most of these stories originated during the 19th century. There is nothing dating before that to support the idea that it is the time of the supernatural, or that the Anglo-Saxons celebrated the night. There are stories of sacrifices, but these were mostly cattle or corpses and done in celebration rather than anything satanic or supernatural.

Halloween is a fun night for many children. It is a chance to dress up as something and scare people. However, there are many myths and legends. It is important for people to separate the five main myths with their facts so they get to really enjoy Halloween every October 31.

By Alexandria Ingham


History Extra

Washington Post


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