Why are pumpkins, treats and costumes part of Halloween?

•       A boy named Stingy Jack is the reason for Jack-o’lanterns, an Irish myth says.

•       Halloween is based on a Celtic festival to mark the end of summer and the beginning of the new year on Nov. 1.

•       Wearing costumes was done to disguise oneself from the spirits wandering around on All Hallows’ Eve, which is popularly known as Halloween, on Oct. 31.

It’s clearly Halloween season in the Philippines with pumpkin baskets, lanterns and trick or
treat goodies displayed in the shopping malls.

But why pumpkins on Halloween? That practice, according to Britannica.com, came from an “Irish myth about a kid named Stingy Jack who tricked the devil for his own monetary gain. When Jack died, God didn’t allow him into heaven, and the devil didn’t let him into hell, so Jack was sentenced to roam the earth for eternity.”

Pumpkin (Photo from Pixabay)

To keep Jack’s wandering soul away, people in Ireland carved demonic faces out of turnips.
Although Jack-o’-lanterns are widely known to be made out of pumpkins, these lanterns actually started from turnips and potatoes, according to the English Heritage website. The Irish brought the tradition with them when they immigrated to America in the 1800s. Since pumpkins were plentiful in America and are easier to carve, the tradition continued with pumpkins.

Where did the traditions of Halloween start and how did the jack-o’-lanterns get associated with it?
Britannica.com has more interesting details on this: “Halloween is based on the Celtic festival Samhain, a celebration in ancient Britain and Ireland that marked the end of summer and the beginning of the new year on Nov. 1. It was believed that during Samhain the souls of those who had died that year traveled to the otherworld and that other souls would return to visit their homes.”

The tradition of wearing disguises or costumes came from Samhain where disguises were used to hide oneself from the wandering souls on All Hallows’ Eve, which is popularly known as Halloween, on Oct. 31.

The next day, Nov. 1, the Catholic Church celebrates All Saints Day, and on Nov. 2, All Souls Day.

“The folklore about Stingy Jack was quickly incorporated into Halloween, and we’ve been carving pumpkins—or turnips—ever since,” according to Britannica.com

One of its uses is as a basket when kids go around the neighborhood asking “trick-or-treat.”
Candies, chocolates and anything sweet are the most popular “treat” items that households
prepare to give to children.

Dried fruits and candy (Unsplash photo)

If you are a health-conscious parent, here are suggestions on some healthy treats:

1.      Dried fruits. Dried mangoes are sweet and have a longer shelf life compared to fresh fruits,
giving children more time to indulge in the treat.

2.      Fruit and veggie chips. Those who will be looking for salty treats can have a healthy
alternative in kangkong chips which are coated in a batter and deep fried. Include fruit chips,
like banana chips, which are thin and crispy.

3.      Dark chocolate. To give a real treat to chocolate lovers, give dark chocolate.

4.      Fruits. Prepare fresh fruit cups, small bananas, apples. Children like their flavor.

The fun of Halloween in going around with friends asking for treats. Keep the practice alive
by preparing a bowl of healthy treats.

Happy Halloween! (Thea Magueriano)