A Quiz: Hallowe’en’s Unfamiliar Facts

Carolyn’s Online Magazine




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The name Hallowe’en comes from a shortening of the holiday’s former title, All Hallow’s Evening, which was the night before All Hallows’ (sanctified or holy) Day, or Hallowmas on November 1.2

It’s believed Hallowe’en originated around 4000 B.C., which means it’s been around for over 6,000 years.2

Hallowe’en was inspired by an Irish Celtic festival which celebrates the end of the harvest season. The tradition spread to other parts of the world after the Irish fled their country following the potato famine. 3

Hallowe’en has had various nicknames through the ages: All Hallows’ Eve, Witches Night, Lamswool, Snap-Apple Night, Samhain and Summer’s End.2,3

Below is a 10-question Hallowe’en quiz with a bonus question. Answers follow the quiz.

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  1. Statistically, what is the biggest danger on Hallowe’en? (Take precautions and be safe).
  2. What is the name for the fear of Hallowe’en?
  3. Legends say that seeing a spider on Hallowe’en means what?
  4. What is barmbrack?
  5. Hallowe’en originated from a Samhain (pronounced [Sow-en]4)2. What is a Samhain?
  6. What did the pagans who first celebrated the holiday believe the spirits of the dead do on Sanhain (Hallowe’en)?
  7. What did the villagers do so they wouldn’t blend in with the dead they believed were roaming the world, or, at least, to keep from being recognized by the evil spirits, during Sanhain?
  8. When did the Catholic church graft Christianity onto the pagan ritual of Sanhain?
  9. What do the traditional Hallowe’en colors, black and orange, represent?
  10. Legends say that bobbing for apples and the word bonfire may have originated from what?


What four American cities are noted for their Hallowe’en connections?

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 To learn answers click on more:

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  1. Alcohol poisoning.5  NOTE: In 2014 there were 160 alcohol-related crashes and 8 fatalities in Pennsylvania during the Hallowe’en weekend. In Southwestern Pa. there were 43 alcohol-related accidents and 1 fatality. (Reported in a Tribune-Review article,  10/31/2015.)
  2. The fear of Hallowe’en is called Samhainophobia.2
  3. The spirit of a loved one is watching over you.
  4. Barmbrack is a bread baked with various objects in it. Once a traditional food eaten on Hallowe’en, it was used as a sort of fortune-telling game.7 Traditionally, it was baked with a thimble inside. Whoever got the thimble in their slice was to be unfortunate in love for the next year.5
  5. The Irish English dictionary published by the Irish Texts Society defines Samhain, (as) All Hallowtide, the feast of the dead in Pagan and Christian times, signalizing the close of harvest and the initiation of the winter season, lasting till May, during which troops (esp. the Fiann) were quartered. Faeries were imagined as particularly active at this season. The Scottish Gaelis Dictionary defines it as Hallowtide. The Feast of All Soula. Sam + Fuin = end of summer.”
  6. Because the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead were blurred on October 31, the dead could walk the earth. Because the veil between the two worlds—the living and the dead—was at its thinnest on this night,4 the spirits of the dead were thought to revisit their homes, and all kinds of ghosts, goblins, witches and demons were believed to be roaming about.6 Villagers believed the dead would congregate around their feasts.4 which allowed the dead to walk among the living, humans would wear masks and costumes so the spirits would not recognize them.3
  7. They would wear costumes. At feasts, masked men would try to gain the attention of the spirits in an attempt to lead them away from the village.4
  8. In the 9th century. Then the pagan ritual was renamed All Hallow’s Eve, the night before All Saints Day (November 1).6
  9. Orange represents the fall harvest.3 It is a symbol of strength and endurance. Along with brown and gold, it stands for the harvest and autumn.Black represents the darkness associated with death of summer.3   Black is typically a symbol of death and darkness and acts as a reminder that Hallowe’en once was a festival marking the boundaries between life and death.7
  10. A roman harvest festival that honors Pamona, the goddess of fruit trees.During the pre-Hallowe’en celebration of Samhain, bonfires were lit to ensure the sun would return after the long, hard winter. Often Druid priests would throw the bones of cattle into the bonefire flames. Eventually, bonefire became bonfire.7


Both Salem, Mass., and Anoka, Minn., are the self-proclaimed Hallowe’en capitals of the world.2

Salem, Massachusetts and New Orleans are the traditional hotspots for celebrating in the U.S. New Orleans holds the current world record for largest Halloween Party with 17,777 costumed revelers at once.5

In New York City, the Village Hall parade is the largest Hallowe’en parade in the United States. It includes 50,000 participants and draws over 2 million spectators.7

Have a happy, joyous, eeriesque, and safe Hallowe’en.

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1 http://purpleslinky.com/trivia/history/10-weird-facts-about-halloween/

2 http://wavy.com/2014/10/23/10-halloween-fun-facts/

3 http://www.ibtimes.com/halloween-facts-2014-10-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-all-hallows-eve-1713337

4 http://listverse.com/2013/10/31/10-spooky-facts-about-halloween/

5 http://mic.com/articles/17477/halloween-history-13-strange-facts-on-why-we-celebrate-halloween

6 http://www.happyhalloween.at/history.html

7 http://thechive.com/2013/09/19/30-interesting-facts-about-halloween-30-photos/

About carolyncholland

In several if my nine lives I have been a medical lab technician and a human service worker specializing in child day care, adoptions and family abuse. Currently I am a photo/journalist/writer working on a novel and a short story. My general writings can be viewed at www.carolyncholland.wordpress.com. My novel site is www.intertwinedlove.wordpress.com.
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1 Response to A Quiz: Hallowe’en’s Unfamiliar Facts

  1. Pingback: Barm Brack: Information & 2 Recipes | Carolyn's Online Magazine

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