HALLOWEEN FACTS

Happy Halloween – THANKS TO THE IRISH?!?

HAPPY HALLOWEEN – THANKS TO THE IRISH!?!

We here at Law Badgers love Halloween – a crazy fun day that’s not just for kids anymore. Did you know that Americans on average spend more on Halloween than any holiday other than Christmas? WOW! But if you stop and think about it, Halloween is really a strange day – a day to celebrate all things dark and scary. What’s up with that? Where did this come from? It’s a long, and interesting, story. Here is a WAY shortened and overly simplified version.

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A long time ago, Britain and Ireland (and much of continental Europe) were occupied by a group of tribes known as the Celts. Each tribe had its own king or chieftain. The religious leaders and judges of the Celts were a class of priests and wise men known as the Druids. The Celts were pagans whose religious practices often included human sacrifice. In late October each year the Celts, led by the Druids, had a huge festival marking the transition from summer to winter. The people would light bonfires and wear masks to confuse or scare off evil spirits. Scary. There was also lots of human sacrifice. More scary.

When the Roman empire spread through continental Europe, and then into Britain, the Romans brutally suppressed the Celtic culture and religion. Even the Romans, not known for their gentle manner,  found the Celtic practices to be too barbaric. In Britain, the Romans committed an outright massacre of the Druids. But Ireland remained  untouched by Roman military might. There the Celtic practices and the Druids continued to flourish long after the fall of Rome in the fourth century.

CHRISTIANITY

Then came Christianity. As you might have guessed, the Church was not amused by the ways of the Celts and Druids. Missionaries like St. Patrick implored the people to reject their pagan ways and embrace the new religion. In the 9th century, Pope Gregory IV moved All Saints Day, a major Christian holiday previously celebrated in the spring, to November 1. Who knows whether he did so to compete with the pagan fall festivities.

But old habits die hard. Even as Christianity took hold in Ireland, the Irish continued to hold onto some of the old traditions, although in a much more “civilized” (no more human sacrifice) manner and limited to one day – the day before All Saints Day. In Old English, All Saints Day was called “Hallows’ Day.” The day before was “Hallows’ Eve,” eventually just “Halloween.”

STINGY JACK

The Irish continued to develop their own unique traditions and folklore associated with  Halloween. Probably the most famous and influential is the legend of old Jack, or “Stingy Jack.” According to the story Jack was a notorious prankster who played tricks on anyone and everyone he could. He even managed to trick the Devil into promising that he would never take Jack’s soul. When Jack died, Heaven wouldn’t take him, and the Devil kept his promise. Jack was doomed to wander the earth in darkness. In a final act of contempt, or pity, the Devil tossed Jack a burning ember from the fires of hell. Jack hollowed out a turnip, carved it into a lantern, and put the ember inside to light his way as he searched for some place to rest.  So Jack became known as “Jack of the Lantern”, or simply “Jack o’ Lantern.” The tradition of carving turnips or beets into lanterns was born.

NORTH AMERICA

In the 19th century, Irish immigrants to North America brought with them their culture and traditions, including those surrounding Halloween. They soon discovered that pumpkins, native to North America, made much better Jack o’ Lanterns than did turnips or beets. Halloween was added to the great American melting pot.

To everyone’s surprise, these traditions caught on. Children of all backgrounds loved having a day of their own to wear masks and carve pumpkins. But most especially, they loved making lots of mischief, just like old Jack. Not an outhouse was safe from being tipped over or vandalized on Halloween night! By the mid-20th century, communities across the country began to organize Halloween parades and parties with candy to try to keep the children from committing so much mischief, which had become quite destructive in some areas.

As the baby boomers and following generations grew up, many of them missed the Halloween of their youth. Why should kids have all the fun? And by the end of the 20th century, Halloween was not just for kids anymore. Halloween exploded into the spectacle it is today.

Interesting fact: 80% of all pumpkins produced commercially in the U.S. are grown within a 90-mile radius of Peoria, Illinois.

Interesting fact II: Most popular Halloween candy in the U.S.?  Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Skittles. Least popular? Candy corn.

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

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If you’ve been injured and need a lawyer who will fight for your rights, call Law Badgers at 1.833.383.4448 (833 DTF IGHT) or email us at info@lawbadgers.com. We’re here to help.

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