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  • Susan "Zuzu" Skelly

Halloween Explained

Every culture has holidays and traditions that seem a little bit odd to people who didn’t grow up with them. Halloween makes it onto a lot of “strange holidays from around the world” lists.

Let’s take a look at two of the most confusing Halloween traditions – scary costumes and carving pumpkins.

Scary Costumes

Halloween costumes are scary for a very good reason – confusing evil spirits, ghouls, and ghosts. Halloween is a night when evil things walk the Earth, and we dress up to look like them so that they won’t know we are humans. If they can’t find us, they can’t do bad things to us.

Making Jack O’Lanterns (Carving Pumpkins)

We carve pumpkins to remind ourselves not to be like Stingy Jack.

Stingy Jack invited the Devil to a bar to have a drink with him. But 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 pay for both of their drinks. The Devil agreed, but Jack didn’t pay for drinks with that coin – he put the coin in his pocket next to a silver cross. The silver cross stopped the Devil from being able to change back into his regular self.

Jack kept this coin for one year, and then finally made a deal with the Devil. He agreed to let the Devil go free if the Devil agreed not to bother Jack for one year and not to take Jack’s soul when Jack dies. The Devil agreed.

Jack then tricked the Devil a few more times during his life.

When Jack finally died, he wasn’t good enough to go to Heaven, and the Devil couldn’t take his soul and let him into Hell.

Jack became a lost soul, and the Devil sent Jack’s soul off into the dark night with only a burning piece of coal for light. Jack carved out a turnip to carry his burning coal in. He and his turnip lantern have been walking the Earth ever since.

Jack O’Lanterns are a reminder of what happens when you play with the Devil.

Fun fact! Around ¼ of all candy sold in the US is purchased for Halloween.

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