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The Origins of Halloween

Halloween, a day where we eat candy and scare our friends, but have you ever thought about where the day originated from?

The origins of Halloween date back to the Celtic period when people celebrated a festival near the time of Halloween called Samhain (pronounced sow-in). This festival marks the end of summer, the harvest, the beginning of dark and the cold winter ahead; Samhain was associated with human death as they believed on November 1st the boundary between this world and the next would be blurred. Celtic druids and priest believed that they could predict the future as ghosts will help them, druids built huge bonfires to burn crops and animal sacrifices to their Celt deities. During this, the community wore costumes (most consisting of animal skins and heads), and attempted to tell each other's fortunes.

Once the festival was over, they relit their hearths they had recently extinguished that evening in honour of the bonfire and their deities.

In 43AD after the Romans' had conquered most of Celtic land and within the course of 400 years they had made more celebrations that proceeded near the time of Samhain. The first was Feralia; a day in late October where Romans celebrated the passing of loved ones, and the next was to honour the goddess of fruit and trees, Pomona. Pomona's symbol was an apple and created the tradition of bobbing for apples.

Traditions of Halloween

Ever wonder how Halloween traditions came to be? Well here are some now:

  • Carving pumpkins is originally from Ireland but instead of pumpkins they used turnips! This tradition was created from the legend of Stingy Jack, a man who never wanted to go to hell so he caught the devil multiple times and demanded not to be sent down to hell but because of these actions he was never accepted by the angels either, so, to this day Stingy Jack's ghost is forever walking earth. The devil gave jack a lump of coal that he used to light a turnip to guide his was.

  • Wearing scary costumes was a tradition in the celebration of Samhain, which celebrated ghosts returning to earth for that night, they wore them to disguise them as monsters so spirits shall not harm them.

  • Trick or treating has many origin stories but one theory proposes that on Samhain, Celtic people would leave food baskets outside their doors as offering but eventually, friends and family started to exchange these gifts to each other.

  • Bobbing for apples traces back to a courting ritual that was placed on the festival to honour Pomona. There are multiple variations of the game but the gist was that young men and women would come together and try to foretell their future relationships before they started.

Pumpkin Patches

Have you carved a pumpkin this year? Did you visit a local pumpkin patch?

Pumpkin patches were created as early as 1590 in a village of Secotan, located in present-day North Carolina; this is thought to be the first pumpkin patch recorded.

The tradition started in the 1920s and became more popular after World War II.

Pumpkins are a symbol of Halloween because in the 19th century, when a lot of Irish immigrated to the United States, they brought the turnip tradition with them. In America, they discovered a new vegetable, The pumpkin, which is usually harvested in the fall and so they began using them instead.

By going to pumpkin patches you support local farms that are slowly disappearing, so supporting a local farm by purchasing a pumpkin will contribute to their continued success instead of buying your pumpkin in in the supermarket and while there you can enjoy the fun activities your local farm has to offer

Here are some great pumpkin patches in Hampshire you may have visited this year, or could plan to visit next year:

  • Fordingbridge pumpkin picking patch, 10 acres of pumpkins to pick. There are also a variety of different activities to do on your visit.

  • Hollam nurseries, a family business since 1961 this is a nice way to have fun while supporting a family business.

  • Steve Harris farms, another family business that has been here for 3 generations!

After Halloween and your pumpkins are starting to smell what do you do with them?

Well here are some reasons recycling them is a good way to help you and the environment.

The UK carve around ten million pumpkins each year, but where do they all go? Well, with the average weight of a pumpkin likely to be around sixteen pounds in 2022, it is expected that a gigantic seventy thousand tons of the seasonal vegetables go uneaten this autumn. Every last bit of a pumpkin is recyclable - even the part you wouldn't normally eat and if you're making a jack-o'-lantern - and once you've scraped the pumpkin innards out, either put them straight into your food recycling bin or save them in a bowl sort out later.

After Halloween, the rest of the vegetable can go into the recycling too, in fact, it makes a perfect size container for whatever was removed in the first place – just remember to take the candle out first!

The seeds make a great snack by just seasoning them and putting them in the oven. The Pulp is a great way to make pumpkin purée, which can be added to anything from porridge and yoghurt, to being used a savoury dip. Even the skin can be finley sliced and turned into crisps or they can be put to good use in a pot for making soup or veg stock, so maybe this year instead of throwing them in the bin try this out and you might just find you new favourite snack!

By Phoebe D - Year 8


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