"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass... it is about learning to dance in the rain" (unknown)

"Without Darkness, there would be no Light" (unknown)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Halloween... When did it Become Scary?

This morning I read a blog that got me thinking. “Voluptuous Goddess in Training” posted a question regarding Halloween/Samhain:  

When did it become scary and gruesome, 
and why? 

My reply to her post:  
"I absolutely love Halloween/Samhain! I grew up watching spooky movies, from the old back and whites to current... and I enjoy the suspense and the thrills & chills of a good spooky movie (or book). So for me, Halloween has always been fun, and in my adult years fun includes scary, so I have incorporated scary decorations to my Halloween/Samhain. I have no idea at what point in history did it become darker and Horror Movie Characters became popular... in the 80's?... at least that's when I remember seeing more horror-style costumes etc. I think it began happening as the horror movies became more and more popular, which makes sense. Hmm maybe I will do a cross-blog of the subject; you have me thinking! LOL"

After replying to her post, I decided I would do a cross-blog on the subject...

So let's back track... When I was growing up I wanted to be a princess or movie star for Halloween, until I was a teenager... then my costumes included Princess Leia of Star Wars, and face make up like Paul Stanley of KISS; as an adult my fave costume became a Witch; it’s the only time I can dress in full Witch garb and it’s totally accepted LOL, so that’s what I do; however I have been known to occasionally change it up; my past costumes have included a bloody car accident victim, a vampire, a hippy, a Sorceress, a black cat, and a housewife in a robe and slippers, complete with cold cream and rollers in my hair LOL

Most of us know the true history of Halloween, right? Halloween was adopted from the ancient Celts by the Catholic Church but before the Church existed, our ancestors knew it as Samhain (Sowen), a Sabbat to honor our ancestors who came before us, a time to reflect on life’s cycle, and a time to contact the spirit world because on Samhain, the veil between our world and the spirit realm becomes the thinnest, the perfect time to reach out to our loved ones that have passed before us. Samhain was not scary; it was a revered day.

Samhain marks the beginning of the Celtic New Year and is known as the Witch’s New Year; the Earth slowly dies as Autumn temps drop and Winter approaches, the old year has passed, the harvest is gathered up, and the livestock were brought in from the fields. Traditionally Samhain is the day of Novemebr 1st; celebration began on the Eve of October 31st lasting through the following day.

So with that in mind, when did it become S C A R Y?  Around the eighteenth century when the Catholic Church came into being, they decided to use November 1st as All Saints Day to counter act the Pagan day with a Church holiday, as Paganism was considered heresy…  a sin; it became associated with devil worship and of course it was considered as evil. To combat paganism and convert more people to the Church, All Saint’s Day was born and became the festival to honor any saints that did not have a festival of their own; the mass said on that day was called Allhallowmas, a mass for the hallowed (holy); the night before the mass became known as All Hallows Eve. 

All Saint’s Day was followed by All Soul’s Day (November 2nd), a time to pray for the souls in purgatory. This was when trick-or-treating came into being… or thereabouts anyway. So, Halloween/Samhain first became scary when the Catholic Church was born because it was associated with evil spirits and the devil.

Trick-or-treating began on All Soul’s Day when the not so fortunate people would knock on their neighbor’s door begging and were given Soul Cakes, later this practice went from adults begging to children doing the begging; they went to different houses and were given food. When this holiday came to America, the treats became candy in the belief that giving candy would prevent trickery, and costumes were believed a protection against evil spirits... a disguise, so that the spirits and demons would not recognize them.

But where did jack-o-lanterns come from, you ask? Originally they were made from turnips as lanterns, traditionally in Ireland and Scotland, but later when they made their way to America around the early 1800’s, the settlers began using pumpkins as the vegetable lanterns, but these lanterns were not associated with Halloween until 1866, which eventually evolved into the carved jack-o-lanterns we all know and love around the year 1900.

There is an old Irish catholic tale regarding the jack-o-lantern, about a selfish man named Jack and his run in with the devil…

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," which  later evolved into "Jack-O-Lantern.”

So we established when Halloween first began associated with evil spirits and the devil, of course the spookiness of the holiday and the fear associated with it was right around the corner, right? Over the generations with all the preaching of evil and foulness, the fascination with fear and all the wickedness and the spookiness associated with it grew and imaginations ran wild; horror stories and eventually horror films were born and quickly became popular; it was only a matter of time before horror became a prevalent part of Halloween. After all, according to the Church, they are interconnected.

Halloween... When did it become scary, and WHY?  
... Just look at our past, it speaks for its self... 

Loud and Clear.



  1. Brilliant! We just talked about this at work today. One of my co-workers said the same thing you did about it became scary because of Christianity. Very interesting. Thanks for posting this! Why is it though that the pictures you posted with the witches and such aren't scary to me but all of those movies give me the worst nightmares? :/

  2. @~L Thank you! Thanks for giving me the awesome idea :)