Halloween Traditions


Halloween is believed to have originated with the Celtic festival of Samhain. People would light bonfires and put on costumes to fend off ghosts. Pope Gregory III designated November 1st as a day to honor all saints and martyrs in the eighth century. Known as All Saints Day, some of the traditions of Samhain were incorporated into the day. The night before was known as All Hallows’ Eve which evolved into Halloween.

Here’s how some of today’s traditions began.

Jack-o-lanterns originated in Ireland where they were made with turnips, not pumpkins. They’re based on a legend of a man named Stingy Jack who trapped the Devil and made him promise Jack would never go to Hell. But Jack died and found heaven didn’t want him either and he was condemned to wander the earth. Jack carried around in a turnip a lump of burning coal given to him by the Devil. People soon carved faces into gourds of their own to ward off evil spirits like Jack.

The ancient Celtic festival of Samhain marked the beginning of a new year. Bonfires were built to ward off the ghosts.

There are lots of ideas about where this tradition came from. The Celtic people would leave out food to satisfy the ghosts. In Scotland children and poor adults would go to homes in search of food in exchange for offering prayers said for the dead. In German-American communities children would dress in costumes and call on their neighbors to see if the adults could guess their identities. Children were rewarded with food or treats if no one could guess their identity.

Bobbing for Apples
Bobbing for Apples dates all the way back to ancient Rome and a festival in honor of Pamona, the goddess of agriculture and abundance.

Those are just a few of today’s Halloween traditions. What are your favorite customs and traditions?

Why the Cornucopia?


Origins of the cornucopia go back to ancient mythology. It was the attribute of several Greek and Roman deities, most of all those associated with the harvest or spiritual abundance.

Here in America, the cornucopia has become associated mostly with Thanksgiving. The display usually consists of a hollow, horn-shaped basket filled with an abundance of fruits and vegetables.

Want to make a cornucopia of your own? Check out these resources.

Martha Stewart offers instructions to make a handmade cornucopia from raffia. Then she recommends filling it with wheat stalks, squash, apples and pears.

Make it a family project. KidzWorld gives instructions to make a cornucopia from breadstick dough that’s edible when you’re through with the display.

Favecrafts walks you through the instructions for making a cornucopia including suggestions for how to modify a craft store cone-shaped basket.

LilyShop offers instructions for three different types of cornucopia, including making one from pizza dough.

Artists Helping Children suggests several ways for kids to make a cornucopia. Check out the felt one made for holding silverware or a cornucopia wall hanging.

I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.
– Henry David Thoreau