We know why we celebrate most holidays. But there are some whose origins are not as known to most people. Halloween is one of those holidays. Do you know why people go trick-or-treating and dress funny on Halloween? How well do you know the facts behind the often mysterious vampire legends or the spooky facts behind witches? Circles found a few of the beliefs and customs that influenced how we celebrate this spooky holiday.
Halloween is short for “All Hallows Eve”. It can be traced back to the Ancient Celtic festival Samhain (the summers end), celebrating the end of the harvest season. It was believed that on this day that the boundaries between the worlds of the living and dead crossed. The dead were said to cause sickness and damage to crops. To please the gods, and keep spirits from wreaking havoc, they would go door to door carrying lanterns made from hollowed out turnips collecting offerings to burn at bonfires. They also believed the fires had the power to scare away evil spirits and that the smoke would cleanse and protect you. During Samhain costumes were worn to confuse evil spirits and ensure your safety.
It is believed the origin of the word “witch” dates back thousands of years when people widely worshipped Mother Earth (nature) as a goddess.
Witchcraft itself means ” the craft of the wise” and referred to very wise women that learned the value of healing herbs and other types of homeopathic treatments. Using various plant-based medicines, they eased the pain and suffering of others. As Christianity spread, healing began to be looked at as evil sorcery because they felt the sickness was a punishment from God for your sins.
Witches gained popularity in the 1930’s of the release of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and “The Wizard of Oz”.
Bewitched became a popular television show in the late 1960’s that defined the times and brought witches to the mainstream.
Dracula was first portrayed in the 1922 film “Nosferatu”.
Many of the Hollywood vampire films are based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Bela Lugosi famously portrayed Dracula in the 1931 film of the same name.
According to tradition, a vampire is a person whose corpse rises from the grave at night and seeks to suck the blood of the living. According to legend the sun burns their skin, they are afraid of garlic, they have no reflection, and they can be killed by a stake through the heart. Belief in vampires and the power of blood is as old as mankind.
The most famous vampire of all time is Dracula. And while greatly exaggerated, scholars believe that his story is based on fact.