Question 1 –
What vegetable was traditionally carved long before pumpkins?
Turnips Beeetroot Cabbage Potatoes
And the answer is . . . TURNIPS!
I can’t imagine hollowing out any of these vegetables, but evidently back in the 18th century (the 1700’s) pranksters used to hollow out turnips. Then they’d carve scary faces into them and turn them into lanterns. Some people said those faces represented evil spirits. Others said the faces kept evil spirits away.
Question 2 –
So where did those first jack-o-lanterns come from?
United States Ireland France Transylvania
And the answer is . . . Ireland!
Here’s the map of Europe. Do you see, France and Romania? They’re both in purple.
d you eliminate Transylvania? It’s not even a country. It’s actually in the center of Romania.
Ireland is in yellow, and the Irish were the ones who started making jack-o-lanterns out of turnips. It’s based on this old Irish folk tale . . .
Stingy Jack tricked the Devil out of his soul, but the Devil got even. He made Jack walk through the underworld with a lantern. It was really a turnip, held on a stick, lit by coal.
The Irish started making their own lanterns using a big turnip or potato. When immigrants came to the US, they brought their lanterns with them.
We switched to the pumpkin, a much bigger and better vegetable! The US isn’t on this map. You’d have to go west from Ireland across the Atlantic Ocean to find the US.
More Info: www.history.com
Part 2 – The Roots of Halloween
Question 3 –
Who is at the roots of Halloween?
The Celts (Kelts) The Romans
Question 4 –
What’s the name of their original festival?
Samhain (sow-in like cow)
Question 5 –
Why did they need this festival?
To speak with dead ancestors
To make predictions for the future
The answers . . . The Celts were at the roots of Halloween. If you look at the map above, they originally came from Ireland, the United Kingdom (England), and France. The first photo is a wooden Celtic figure.
Their Festival was known as Samhain. It started the night of October 31st, when the fall harvest was ending. The Celts believed that ghosts returned to cause trouble and damage their crops. They also believed those ghosts made it easier for the Druids, the Celtic priests, to predict the future. A Druid is in the last picture.
The Druids made huge bonfires. The people burned food and animals in them as sacrifices to their gods. The Celts wore animal heads and skins. They told fortunes for each other. Their festival helped them survive a long, cold winter with no grocery stores or new crops till spring.
The sacrifices, are now our treats. We exchanged the animal heads and skins for costumes, and the fortune telling became the trick part of Trick or Treat.
Tricks have mostly disappeared, but early Americans used to celebrate their harvests by telling ghost stories and fortunes, or by singing and dancing. Maybe with Covid this year, we should go back to those roots.
Please check out this source. It has a short video, 12 seconds, plus 4 sets of photos with the ghosts of Halloween past.
Part 3 – Halloween and Pop-Culture
Question 6 –
Which weighed more?
The Titanic OR One year of trick or treat candy
Question 7 –
When did kids trick or treat for coins, toys, and home-made sweets?
30’s & 40’s 50’s & 60’s 70’s & 80’s
Question 8 –
What is the most popular Halloween song of all time?
Dark Masquerade Farewell Forever Monster Mash Awaken
The answers . . . I can’t believe it . . . Halloween candy! The Titanic weighed a mere 100 million pounds, and it was one of the biggest ships of all time!
Every year we buy about 600 million pounds for one Halloween. That’s six Titanic’s! We must love our kids and their candy!
In the 1950’s and 1960’s kids got coins or toys or home-made sweets. I trick-or-treated in the 60’s, and I never got a single toy. Not one! Candy was cheaper to give away. When I started, we got regular size candy bars. When I finished, people gave out the miniature ones.
Home-made treats – I didn’t get them very often. By then more and more moms were working and didn’t have time to bake. Besides, would you rather have a chocolate chip cookie or candy? I’d pick candy every time!
By the 70’s and 80’s people started putting bad things in the treats. I remember hospitals would x-ray candy for kids. It’s a sad day when you can’t trust Halloween candy.
The most popular Halloween song – THE MONSTER MASH! Perhaps you’ve heard it! I have – ever since 1962 when I was 3 years old! It’s been a Halloween hit ever since for Bobby “Boris” Pickett.
Here’s the link for an animated version of Boris’ song. I remember the stairs and the blinking eyes from my childhood. Enjoy!
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!