Happy Halloween 2017 from the Austen Authors! Trick or Treat Trivia Time.

Happy Halloween 2017 from the Austen Authors! Trick or Treat Trivia Time.

Halloween origins are a jumbled bag from all over the place. In most cases pinning an exact history to any particular custom is a shot in the dark. The truth is that few (if any) of our contemporary holidays popped up fully formed. Rather, they were created slowly over time and added to along the way. Today, while mom’s scramble to put the final touches on the kiddo’s costume AND keep them away from the Trick-or-Treat candy bucket, I am gently shoving Jane Austen aside to share an assortment of Halloween facts and origins. I’m sure Jane is fine with being ignored since she would never understand this Halloween thing anyway!

For this post, I have a bit of history for the most common Halloween associated customs or imagery. I have added trivia questions, also related to the holiday, for a fun test of YOUR Halloween knowledge. Enjoy the take-them-with-a-grain-of-salt “facts.” For the trivia questions, the answers are hidden at the end of the post, but try to answer them without peeking! In the comments, let me know how you did with the quiz, and please share some of YOUR favorite Halloween traditions and memories!

 

 

Bobbing for Apples 

When the Celts were absorbed by the Roman Empire, many rituals of Roman origin overlapped. Among them was the worship of Pomona, goddess of the harvest, often portrayed sitting on a basket of fruits and flowers. The idea behind bobbing for apples seems to have been that snatching a bite from the apple enabled the person to grasp good fortune. Unmarried people would attempt to take a bite out of an apple bobbing in a pail of water, or suspended on a string. The first person to do so was believed to be the next to marry.

Who wrote the famous spooky tale, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow?

Transylvania is a region in which country?

 

HALLOWEEN FUN FACT
The owl is a popular Halloween image. In Medieval Europe, owls were thought to be witches and to hear an owl’s call meant someone was about to die.

Black Cats 

Cats, in general, have long been associated with divinity and magic, many cultures considering them sacred. Black cats were thought to be reincarnated beings with the ability to divine the future. During the Middle Ages, it was believed that witches could turn themselves into black cats. Thus, when such a cat was seen, it was considered to be a witch in disguise.

Bobby “Boris” Pickett composed this holiday hit in 1962. What is the name of the song?

Who directed The Nightmare Before Christmas?

 

HALLOWEEN FUN FACT
In the UK white cats are thought to bring bad luck, not like black cats in the USA. Many shelters don’t allow black cats to be adopted around Halloween for fear that they may be tortured or sacrificed.

 

Witches

In Pre-Christian Europe, wise women (or men for that matter) who practiced herbal medicine and revered nature were seen as magical. Later this was misinterpreted, leading to the famous witch-hunts of the past. Originally, witches were merely one of the various supernatural beings thought to walk or fly about the earth on Halloween. How or when witches became the symbol of Halloween over other “monsters” and nocturnal creatures is unknown, but probably a marketing ploy!

Which common Halloween vegetable originated in Mexico over 9,000 years ago?

How many people were hanged during the Salem Witch Trials?

 

HALLOWEEN FUN FACT
Americans purchase over 20 million pounds of Candy Corn each year. The number one candy of choice is Snickers. Candy corn has been made with the same recipe by the Jelly Belly Candy Company since around 1900. More than twice as much chocolate is sold for Halloween than for Valentine’s Day

Dressing Up in Costumes 

This one has several real historical origin possibilities, but the tie to Halloween “Trick or Treating” is questionable and in a roundabout way.

1) In Medieval times and places, costumed holiday parading, singing and dancing at May Day, Halloween, and Yule (with different themes, of course, though sometimes with similar characters) became popular in Ireland and the British Isles. Originally these costumed celebrants were adults who would go from house to house receiving drink and food in exchange for their performances.

2) In 1605 Guy Fawkes’ abortive effort to blow up the British Parliament on November 5th led to the creation of “Guy Fawkes Day” celebrated by the burning of Fawkes effigies in bonfires and children dressing in rags to beg for money for the fireworks.

3) Masks had long been a part of the “masquerade” tradition stretching back centuries. People wore masks at Christmas parties and cross-dressed for Twelfth Night.

4) There is also commonly stated reference of Halloween costuming associated with the ancient Celts wearing disguises to confuse the evil spirits roaming on Samhain. The problem with this one as a source is the fact that there is NO concrete documented evidence that the Celts did this!

Mary Shelly published this Gothic novel in 1818 when she was only 21. It is considered one of the first examples of science fiction.

Halloween is the day before which holiday?

 

HALLOWEEN FUN FACT
In the USA, up until the late 1920s dressing up in costume and asking for treats at local businesses was a New York City Thanksgiving tradition. It only stopped when the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade became too much to compete with, and sometime afterward dressing in costumes fell back a month to become a Halloween custom.

 

Disney tricktreat 1952Trick or Treat 

It is unknown precisely where and when the phrase “trick or treat” was coined. Old World traditions of souling, mumming, and guising became popular in the USA, as they were in Europe. By the 1920s, however, pranks had become the Halloween activity of choice for rowdy young people, for reasons unclear, and this mischief hit a high point during the desperation of the Great Depression. In some parts of the country schools and civic groups sponsored “give aways” of candy and treats to keep young people off the streets. Organized Halloween candy-gifting activities began after WWII, and the custom was firmly established in American popular culture by 1951 when trick-or-treating was depicted in a Peanuts comic strip. (see image below) Then, in 1952, Disney produced a cartoon called “Trick or Treat” featuring Donald Duck and his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie (right). Thereafter the phrase was set!

Every Halloween, Charlie Brown helps his friend Linus wait for what character to appear?

Who is said to haunt the White House Rose Garden?

 

 

Peanuts1951
Peanuts, October 31 & November 1, 1951

 

HALLOWEEN FUN FACT
The first known mention of trick-or-treating in print in North America occurred in 1927 in Blackie, Alberta, Canada.

 

Jack O’Lantern 

Carving out gourds, potatoes, turnips, and other hard-shell vegetables to place a candle or burning coal within as a light on dark nights is an ancient practice. Where and when the idea of carving faces or pictures onto the shell began is unknown for certain, but usually attributed to the Celts and Irish. Whether this was only done as part of a Halloween ritual to scare away evil spirits or to guide the souls to the meal left out for them is also unclear. Pumpkins eventually became the fruit of choice due to how plentiful they were, how easy to carve, and how lasting compared to other vegetables.

The “Jack” has different legends as well. One is that “Jack” was a name for a night watchman carrying a light. Another possible origin is “Jack” as a spirit who floated through the dark as a mysterious ball of light or ghostly glowing face trying to trick travelers into following to their doom.

Why are the colors black and orange associated the strongest with Halloween?

Count Dracula is based on a real person from history. What was his name?

 

HALLOWEEN FUN FACT
Mexico celebrates the Days of the Dead on the Christian holiday All Saints’ Day (November 1) and All Souls’ Day (November 2) instead of Halloween. The townspeople dress up like ghouls and parade down the street.

 

Bonfires

As much as Halloween advocates want to tie bonfires to sacrifices or some other pagan rites for the coolness factor, the truth is quite uninteresting. Fire was simply the best way to keep warm on a cold night, essential for cooking, and a great way to cast light. At gatherings in ancient times — or even today if hanging out on the beach with friends or at a campground — a big fire served as the focal point for the festivities. That is pretty much it!

According to legend, what does it mean if you see a spider on Halloween?

What is the fear of Halloween called?

 

HALLOWEEN FUN FACT
It’s actually very rare for a full moon to occur on Halloween. Although, it’s predicted to occur on 10/31/2020.

 

 

 

Who wrote the famous spooky tale, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow?
Transylvania is a region in which country?
Bobby “Boris” Pickett composed this holiday hit in 1962. What is the name of the song?
Who directed The Nightmare Before Christmas?
Which common Halloween vegetable originated in Mexico over 9,000 years ago?
How many people were hanged during the Salem Witch Trials?
Mary Shelly published this Gothic novel in 1818 when she was only 21. It is considered one of the first examples of science fiction.
Halloween is the day before which holiday?
Every Halloween, Charlie Brown helps his friend Linus wait for what character to appear?
Who is said to haunt the White House Rose Garden?
Why are the colors black and orange associated the strongest with Halloween?
Count Dracula is based on a real person from history. What was his name?
According to legend, what does it mean if you see a spider on Halloween?
What is the fear of Halloween called?

 

 

21 Responses to Happy Halloween 2017 from the Austen Authors! Trick or Treat Trivia Time.

  1. Delightful post. I knew about half of the questions. There was so much information in this post. What fun!!! Thanks for the fun escape for a few minutes.

  2. I got five or six right. It’s hard to know, exactly, as I am doing this while passing out candy and trying to control our vicious attack dogs. Halloween is hard on them!

    We always went trick-or-treating growing up, but nobody ever came to our house! We lived on a farm in a house that was kind of scary even during the daylight, let alone on Halloween!

    As for Jane Austen being offended, we’re talking about the woman who wrote Northanger Abbey! I’m sure she’d be trick-or-treating right along with us if she were alive today. 🙂

    • Good point on Jane and Northanger Abbey! She probably would have laughed at Halloween antics.

      I hope your doggie isn’t too put out at not getting to bite someone. 🙂

  3. I’m surprised I did pretty good, I only missed 5 questions. My favorite memory of Halloween is how when I was little, my older brothers used to put me in a wagon and we would walk around the neighborhood. There was one neighbor that always handed out money so every year, we would be excited to visit that house. There was also a neighbor that gave out apples which we would always complain about.

  4. What a great post, Sharon! I don’t know how you find time to do all that, but it was fun to read. I only got about 50% of the trivia questions right. Thank you, and Happy Halloween! 🙂 (I think all squash are native to the Americas, right?)

    • Happy Halloween Summer! I hope your evening was fun.

      I happen to be a major trivia buff. It helps if playing Trivial Pursuit (which I ROCK at) but otherwise is a useless skill . . . except for when writing a blog post. LOL!

  5. 8 right, 6 wrong

    We lived out in the country and when we went out to Trick or Treat the neighbor would invite us in and then attempt to guess who we were. We collected apples along with popcorn balls. Today all that is a “No-no”.

    • I forgot about popcorn balls! I remember getting those when I was a kid too. I lived in a very small town where everyone literally knew everyone, so passing out homemade treats was common and safe. Fun times.

  6. I got seven right and was close on another one (the Salem witch trials–only off by 2). Thanks for the fun post! I loved Halloween as a kid because it was an excuse to get really excited about something, especially since the newness of the school year had worn off and the eagerness for Christmas had yet to begin (since it was still SO LONG TO WAIT!). I had really thick hair as a kid and it held curl really well, so for several years I would braid it into a bunch of tiny braids while wet and then brush it out when it dried. Then I’d spray it green or orange and be a witch with my hair sticking out like a crazy bush. It was fun!

    • Good point on the timing of Halloween. I remember that too, when I was young. As an adult with kids to costume it felt more like an inconvenience to have so many holidays to contend with in quick succession.

      Your hair imagery is awesome! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  7. I only knew 4 and that was probably the easiest ones?.
    Halloween has made its way only the last 10-20 years in Norway so the tradition is not that old.
    Traditionally we dress up and go carolsinging during the Christmas holiday in exchange for some candy.
    Have an American neighbour that has set an excellent example though.

Your thoughts are precious!