It is one of the world’s oldest holidays and is celebrated in many countries around the globe, and no matter how you look at it or whatever you call it...Halloween, Samhain, All Souls....it's magical and fun. To the Celts, this is the time that marked the end of summer, the harvest and the beginning of the dark cold winter, a time which the boundary between the two worlds and became unveiled or blurred, enabling the Druids or Celtic priests to make predictions about the future. To honor and pacify their dearly departed, the Celts lit bonfires, feasted, wore costumes and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes...an important source of comfort during the long harsh winter. And, when the feasting was over, they re-lit their hearth fires from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming of winter.
Most of us are at least a little superstitious at times. We may have lucky clothes that we wear to a job interview or a lucky food that we eat before our sports team plays. Holidays are a time for superstitions too, and Halloween itself is a celebration of superstitions.
In Scotland anyone who had to travel on Halloween would always carry a stick of Rowan (Mountain Ash) to ward off witches.
Witches cannot fly their brooms over running water. They can also be brought down from the skies by the peal of church bells.
Witches were supposed to have a special relationship with particular companion animals who would carry out their wishes. These "familiars" as they're known included not just cats but bats, weasels, toads and mice. They were said to be nourished by milk from the witch's body.
Witches were supposed to travel by broom as this symbolized the link between the home and the spiritual.
It is also considered good luck to tie red thread to a Rowan tree on Halloween. (By the way tying a similar red thread around your finger is supposed to cure hiccups.)
If you see a spider on Halloween it is said to be the spirit of a dead loved one watching over you.
The devil is said to be able to turn himself into any animal except a donkey.
Leaving food on your doorstep on Halloween was supposed keep the hungry spirits on the outside.
In Northern Ireland oatmeal and salt was put on children's heads to ward off evil spirits on the night of Halloween.
After a boiled egg always push the bottom of the empty shell through to stop the fairy witches from using them to cross running water.
The rhyme Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jump over the candlestick, comes from the Halloween tradition of placing a lighted candle on the floor and jumping over it. If the flame goes out you will have a year of bad luck.
Have a happy Halloween!