Symbols reveal spooky origin

Compiled by Reporting Staff

Trick or Treat
The practice of trick or treating greatly resembles an activity from the Middle Ages, known as souling, according to This was when poor individuals would go door to door, giving prayers in return for food. The practice dates back to Ireland and Britain, although similar activities were performed in areas like Italy. Trick or treating did not begin to become popular in North America, however, until the 1940s.

Skeletons play a large part in Halloween celebrations, according to In North America, they serve as a traditional symbol of death. In countries that celebrate Day of the Dead, skeletons play a major role. Figurines of brightly painted and decorated skeletons are sold at vendors and given as gifts. They are also designed to help make people feel closer to their ancestors.

Many Americans have come to associate black cats with bad luck and Halloween. This superstition stems from the prosecution of single older women accused of being witches, according to Many of these women owned cats and the cats were deemed evil by proxy. However, in some European Countries superstitions are the exact opposite. The lore associates white cats with bad luck and evil.

Bobbing for apples
Apple bobbing has been popularly associated with Pomona, the ancient Roman goddess of fruits, trees, and gardens in whose honor a festival was supposedly held each year on November first, according to Although, there is much controversy about whether or not this festival really did take place. The online Urban legends article also states that the game of apple bobbing goes back at least a few hundred years, that it originated in the British Isles (Ireland and Scotland in particular), and that it originally had something to do with fortune telling of the initials of your true love to be.

The art of wearing costumes on Halloween is a tradition that can be dated centuries before us. It was believed that Halloween was the one day that spirits walked the Earth. According to, the wearing of the costumes was to confuse the spirits into thinking the costumed people were one of them and the spirits would leave them alone.

Colors orange and black
Orange and black have been Halloween’s colors for thousands of years, according to The Celtics began the holiday as the festival of harvest, giving the color orange for the time of harvest. The color orange also shows strength and endurance, although unknown if it was for the harvest time, or holiday itself. Halloween is also a festival of the dead, which brings out black for the darkness in the dead.

Jack o’ Lantern
Jack o’ lanterns are an Irish tradition in which people hollowed out large turnips and potatoes, carved scary faces on them, and then illuminated them with candles, according to When this practice came to North America, the turnips and potatoes were replaced with pumpkins. The term “jack o’ lantern” comes from the legend of Stingy Jack, who tricked the Devil into not claiming his soul when he died and was cursed to wander the Earth forever, carrying a burning coal in a hollow turnip shell as a lantern.

“Dracula” is an 1897 novel written by Bram Stoker. The name ‘Dracula’ comes from the Romanian word dracul, which means devil or dragon, according to and refers to Vlad III, the 15th-century ruler of what is now Romania. He was called Vlad Draculea, which translates to mean son of the dragon or son of the devil. For the novel, Stoker reflected mostly on the name and its meaning, rather than on the historic figure himself.