It’s Halloween this weekend so I thought I’d tell you some fun facts about its history and the some of the characters you'll expect to see on your doorstep on Friday... Ok so I cheated a bit this week and brought in more history than archaeology but I found it interesting so you hopefully you will too!
Why is Halloween celebrated on the 31st October? Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain (pronounced "sah-win"). The festival of Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture. Samhain was a time used by the ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and prepare for winter. The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased would come back to life and cause havoc such as sickness or damaged crops.
Why do we wear Halloween costumes and go trick-or-treating ?
The practice of dressing up in costumes and begging door to door for treats on holidays goes back to the Middle Ages, and includes Christmas wassailing. Trick-or-treating resembles the late medieval practice of "souling," when poor folk would go door to door on Hallowmas
(November 1), receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2).
Why are mummies always screaming?
For well over a century, the contorted features of ancient mummies have led to speculation of untold pain and horrible deaths. Archaeologists uncovering ancient tombs have often found the mummified corpses with their mouths agape or lips pulled back as if they are screaming or writhing in pain, indeed this has led to the portrayal of mummies in this state in the media, fiction and in your Halloween costumes.
So why were the mummies found with these terrified and pained expressions? The reason is a lot less horryfiying that you’d expect and simply due to the decomposition of a body after rigor mortis – if the jaw isn't strapped shut when a body is mummified it naturally falls open as the muscles relax during the process of decay, leaving a permanent "scream."
Why do witches fly on brooms sticks?
Why do witches fly on broom sticks? To get high of course! Although you may be rolling your eyes at reading that, I bet you didn’t know that the joke is also surprisingly accurate....
According to research the reason is pharmacological. Hallucinogenic chemicals called tropane alkaloids are made by a number of plants including Atropa belladonna (deadly nightshade), Hyoscyamus niger (henbane), Mandragora officinarum (mandrake), and Datura stramonium (jimsonweed).
During the Middle Ages, parts of these plants were used to make “brews,” “oyntments,” or “witches’ salves” for witchcraft, sorcery, and other nefarious activities. It was quickly discovered that injesting these ointments led to some terrible sideeffects such as vomiting, rashes etc. and so in order to avoid these side-effects the hallucinogenic compounds were absorbed into the skin and the fastest way to get the ointment into your blood was through sweat glands. So how did the alleged witches apply said ointments? Yep you guessed it, by using the broomsticks!
You can read the rest below, but I warn you its definitely not something you can tell your kids!
Oh and finally...
Why did the Vampire read C-U-D-I? Because he heard it had good circulation!