Halloween is a fun time of year, looked forward to by millions of people around the world. One of the things that makes the day special are the many Halloween traditions passed down from generation to generation. These traditions provide a direct connection from the past to the present. Their symbolism may not always be understood, but their power in the minds and hearts of those who follow them cannot be denied. In some sense, Halloween traditions are what Halloween is all about.
One of the main Halloween traditions is the carving of a scary or grotesque face onto a pumpkin. A candle, or other source of illumination, is then placed inside the pumpkin so as to light up the carved face. This is commonly known as a “jack o’lantern”. Countless people perform this ritual every year. It’s an integral part of Halloween. Where did this tradition start?
Another important Halloween tradition is trick or treating. In this tradition, children in costume go door to door in their neighborhood or community. At each household they knock or ring the doorbell. When the door is answered, the children yell “Trick or Treat!” and the home owner places a small amount of candy in the bag each child carries. Again, trick or treat defines the Halloween experience for millions. Where did this tradition start?
Like many Halloween traditions, the jack o’lantern and trick or treating got their start among the people of Ireland and Scotland. Both countries have Halloween traditions that include going door to door to beg for treats and carving gourds with faces on or around October 31st. When the Irish and Scots emigrated to the United States and Canada, they brought their traditions, including trick or treating and gourd carving, with them. After time, these Old World traditions caught on in popularity in the New World and a whole new aspect of Halloween traditions was born.