Happy Halloween! – Fun Halloween Myths & Info to Enjoy.
Halloween also known as All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints’ Eve, is a yearly celebration observed in a number of countries on 31st October. Typical contemporary festive Halloween activities include trick-or-treating or “guising”, carving pumpkins into Jack-O-Lanterns, visiting haunted attractions, telling scary stories and watching horror films.
In Scotland and Ireland, “guising”, children going from door to door in disguise, is traditional, and a gift in the form of food, coins or in more recent times chocolate, is given out to the children dressed up in various costumes. The tradition is called “guising” because of the disguises or costumes worn by the children.
In Scotland and Ireland, the children are only supposed to receive treats if they perform a party trick for the households they go to. This normally takes the form of singing a song or reciting a joke or a funny poem which the child has memorized before setting out. Occasionally a more talented child may do card tricks, play the mouth organ, or something even more impressive, but most children will earn plenty of treats even with something very simple. Often they won’t even need to perform. While going from door to door in disguise has remained popular among Scots and Irish at Halloween, the North American saying “trick-or-treat” has become common.
The practice of decorating “jack-o’-lanterns”, the name comes from an Irish folktale about a man named Stingy Jack—originated in Ireland, where large turnips and potatoes served as an early canvas. Irish immigrants brought the tradition to America, home of the pumpkin, and it became an integral part of Halloween festivities.
The Legend of “Stingy Jack”
People have been making jack-o’-lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed “Stingy Jack.” According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul.
The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.
Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern,” and then, simply “Jack-O-Lantern.”
In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack’s lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. In England, large beets are used. Immigrants from these countries brought the Jack-O-Lantern tradition with them when they came to the United States. They soon found that pumpkins make perfect Jack-O-Lanterns.
Where is the 13th floor?
Lastly, the thirteenth floor is a designation of a level of a multi-level building that is often omitted in countries where the number 13 is considered unlucky. Omitting the 13th floor may take a variety of forms; the most common include denoting what would otherwise be considered the thirteenth floor as level 14, giving the thirteenth floor an alternate designation such as “12A” or “M” (the thirteenth letter of the Latin alphabet), or closing the 13th floor to public occupancy or access by designating it as a mechanical floor.
Reasons for omitting a thirteenth floor include triskaidekaphobia on the part of the building’s owner or builder, or a desire by the building owner or landlord to prevent problems that may arise with superstitious tenants, occupants, or customers. Internal records estimate that 85% of the buildings with elevators did not have a floor named the 13th floor. Early tall-building designers, fearing a fire on the 13th floor, or fearing tenants’ superstitions about the rumor, decided to omit having a 13th floor listed on their elevator numbering.
This practice became commonplace, and eventually found its way into American mainstream culture and building design.
**Triskaidekaphobia (from Greek tris meaning “3”, kai meaning “and”, deka meaning “10” and phobos meaning “fear” or “morbid fear”) is fear of the number 13.
Pam’s VAS Wishes Everyone a Happy and Safe Halloween!