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David Emery

A Halloween Primer

By October 12, 2013

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With only a few weeks left to go before ghosts, goblins, and monsters of every kind hit the streets looking for sugary handouts, it might be useful to review a few of the things we know — and don't really know — about the origin and history of Halloween:

  • A Quick Guide to the Origin & History of Halloween - You've probably heard it said that Halloween and some its customs are based on an ancient pagan festival known as Samhain, but the accuracy of this popular belief has been challenged in recent years.
  • Why Do We Carve Pumpkins? - Short answer: because they're bigger, brighter, and more plentiful than turnips (which is what jack-o'-lanterns were originally made from).
  • Why Do We Bob for Apples? - Folklorists say this Halloween custom arose as a divination game for young people during which the participants' "true loves" would be magically revealed.
  • Why Do We Wear Costumes and Trick-or-Treat? - According to some historians, trick-or-treating may be a relatively recent addition to the Halloween holiday, cooked up by adults to curtail youthful pranksterism!
  • Is Halloween Candy Tampering a Myth? - A sociologist who crunched the numbers says not a single instance of a child being seriously injured or killed by adulterated Halloween treats has ever been confirmed.


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