The History of Simple Halloween Traditions

The History of Simple Halloween Traditions

Rediet Assefa , Author, 7th grade

Bobbing for Apples:

When we think of Halloween we very much associated it with pumpkins, but apples have played an important role in its history. Apples have been mentioned a lot of times in Celtic mythology. Nowadays bobbing for apples is a popular party game but back then this simple party game was used around Halloween to reveal your true love. That’s right, people would dunk their heads in large containers of water to try to bite into floating fruit to reveal their future spouse. The ladies would mark an apple and toss it into the tub. The idea was the women would be destined to whoever pulled there apple out of the water.



In modern day, a jack-o’-lantern is a carved pumpkin or turnip lantern related to Halloween. But back in the day, folks in Ireland called their carved pumpkins “jack-o’-lanterns” because of the threatening legend of the drunkard Jack. One night, a drunk man named Jack trapped the devil in a tree by carving a cross into the tree. In exchange for letting the devil climb down, Jack had him vow to never take his soul no matter what. Jack continued to act like a fool his whole life. When he died, he was definitely not allowed in heaven. So, he tried to return to the Devil. But Satan held his end of the deal, throwing a piece of coal from hell at the unwanted soul. Jack with nowhere to go, placed the coal in a pumpkin and use it as a lantern as he searched for a resting place for his soul.  



Modern day tricks-or-treating is a combination of many traditions.  The Ancient Celts dressed up as evil spirits in order to confuse demons into thinking that they themselves were demons to. TIME reported that the Irish and Scottish immigrants brought ‘souling’ into the United States in the 1800s. ‘Souling’ is the act or ritual of asking for food or other items. This usually took place on the eve of All Souls Day, but modern day tricks-or-treating didn’t become popular in the United States until the 1920.  


Wearing Costumes:

Wearing costumes is a very big and fun part of Halloween but the history behind it was quite gruesome. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became quite thin. This caused the ghosts of the dead to come back to the living world on Halloween. Halloween originated with the ancient Celtic festival called Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to scare off ghosts. People thought that they would have a run in with a ghost if they left their homes. To outwit these scary ghosts, people would put on masks and costumes when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would think that they were spirits.


Works Cited

Cain, Áine. “The dark history behind Halloween Is Even More Chilling Than You Realized.” Business Insider, 31 Oct. 2017, Accessed 23 Oct. 2019. Editors. “Halloween 2019.” Halloween 2019, 18 Nov. 2009. HISTORY, Accessed 23 Oct. 2019.