Although your kids might think otherwise, Halloween isn’t just about the candy! We caught up with some of our favorite folks from Ireland to share the origin stories of our spookiest holiday. We’ve also rounded up some great books from local authors that are fun to read for the whole family.
The Original Halloween: Samhain
Halloween began over 3,000 years ago as the Celtic festival of Samhain, pronounced sow-in. Say it out loud and you’ll be able to hear the connection to the modern word Hallow-een.
When the Christian holiday of All Hallow’s Eve arrived in the 5th century, which took place around the same time of year, the practices began to merge and the more common term became Halloween.
Samhain marks the end of the harvest season and a transition into the darker months of winter, the Celts believed that this was a time when the worlds of the living and the dead could interact, and spirits could move between the worlds.
Walk Among Us: The Tradition of Costumes
In order to avoid being tricked or taken into the Otherworld (aka the world of the dead) people would disguise themselves as spirits like ghosts, fairies, witches, demons and goblins.
Ancient Celts would frequently don animal skins and other elaborate outfits. These costumes would cause confusion and allow the living to walk among the spirits without harm. This is where our tradition of dressing up on Halloween comes from!
Knife Skills: Carving Pumpkins
The tradition of carving pumpkins also has its origins in Ireland. While pumpkins are indigenous to the Americas, the Irish carved turnips and large potatoes into the original jack-o’ lanterns.
Why the name Jack? Many believe it’s because of the story of a man named Stingy Jack, who tried to trick the Devil. He did not succeed and in punishment, he was doomed to wander eternity with only a turnip with a single ember to light his way.
Some believe that the single ember to light a jack-o’-lantern came from the Samhain bonfire and brought good luck to the household. It was placed inside a turnip and carried to the hearth to light the first fire of the Celtic New Year (Nov. 1).
Other Ideas to Celebrate Halloween
You can ask Alexa or any Google Assistant device and get a “true” haunting tale. Check out US Ghost Adventures.
Ghost Stories by Spooky America
Who doesn’t love a good ghost story? Written for kids in mind, these hair-raising tales, immerse kids in the history of a specific place, its people, its way of life, and its evolution. Luckily, there are great stories about San Antonio, Austin and Galveston. Do you dare?