In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV created All Saints' Day on November 1 to celebrate all the saints who didn't have their own day of celebration. He probably moved it to this date to discourage Christians from celebrating Samhain. The Celtics used November 1 to celebrate the harvest by offering food to their gods.
The day before All Saints' Day was called All Hallows Eve (Hallow is an old English word for saint)- which means the evening before All Saints Day. All Hallows' Eve was later shortened to Halloween. Contrary to popular opinion, Halloween has its roots in Catholicism rather than Satanists and Wiccans. It was only centuries later that these groups adopted this day.
Bobbing For Apples: Early folk tales told of unmarried people attempting 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. Peeling an apple in front of a candle-lit mirror was believed to produce the image of one's future spouse. 3 Attempting to produce a long unbroken apple peel was said to estimate the number of years you had to live. The longer the peel, the longer your life expectancy.
Trick or Treating: On All Souls' Day, early European Catholics had a tradition of going from home to home, asking for soul cakes, or currant buns. In return, they would pray for the souls of the homeowner's relatives.
Jack-o'-lantern: The term "Jack-o-lantern" (Archive) came from an Irish folk tale of the 18th century. Jack was an Irishman. He had tricked the Devil into climbing an apple tree. He then cut a cross symbol in the tree trunk, thus trapping the Devil in the branches. At his death, he was unable to again access to Heaven because of his meanness. The Devil, having a long memory, would not allow him into Hell. So he was forced to walk the earth endlessly. The devil took pity on him and gave him a piece of coal to light his path. Jack put it inside a hollowed-out turnip that he had been eating.
Los Dias de los Muertos (The Days of the Dead): The Aztecs believed that the Monarch butterflies were the reincarnated spirits of their dead ancestors. Hispanics celebrate this day to honor their dead ancestors.
Bonfire Night: In England, Halloween is called All Hallows Eve. A few days later on November 5, they have Bonfire Night. On this night, bonfires burn in every city and town in England. They do this to dishonor a rebel named Guy Fawkes. They believe that Guy Fawkes was sent by the Pope to burn the House of Commons in London. Some towns to this day in England burn effigies of the Pope and Guy Fawkes.
Life's a Scream
Edvard Munch's "The Scream" - Interdisciplinary Connections
You can't forget famous works of art for Halloween. One of the most popular is one by Edvard Munch. Says Edvard:
"I was walking along a road one evening- on one side lay the city, and below me was the fjord. The sun went down- the clouds were stained red, as if with blood. I felt as though the whole of nature was screaming- it seemed as though I could hear a scream. I painted that picture, painting the clouds like real blood. The colors screamed." ~ Edvard Munch
Hey art teachers, some days you got to "SCREAM" - jump up and down for joy -- and do some cartwheels too! (Silly me). Dan Cherney sent me this incredible CNN article that just SCREAMS Interdisciplinary. Make your lesson meaningful. Why the sky was red in Munch's 'The Scream.'
Science: Astronomy, volcanoes, weather (I know this is all middle school curriculum) - Physics for the older kids
Geography: Norway - Indonesia (Island of Krakatoa) - topographical maps - etc.
Social Studies: The people of Norway (form 1800's and today) and the people of Indonesia (World religions/ beliefs IS a part of social studies curriculum - help those teachers do their jobs. Read your county curriculum guides to be sure. I know I am right for all of Ohio - Your states may be different)
Math: The researchers determined the vantage point of where Munch must have been standing. I'm too "stupid" today to figure that out - but your math people might be intrigued. Tie in distance - physics (there is math in physics)- there's more but let the math people help.
ART: Lots and lots and lots you can do... I have too many ideas to list. We will start with parody. GOOD NEWS! Amazon now has "The Scream" - (24" x 36" (61 x 91 cm) poster)
Hint: Save the article to file now - do the research over the summer to make your unit really wonderful! Many of you like to do "the Scream" in the Fall (around Halloween). Check with core subjects to see when their units fall - it is easier to mesh with them - than to make them mesh with you (smile).
175 Easy-To-Do Halloween Crafts - Children as well as their teachers will like this book, which is filled with homespun ideas well within the grasp of elementary-graders comfortable using scissors, tape, and glue.
Ed Emberley's Drawing Book of Halloween - An activity package which contains many Halloween drawing projects. It shows you how to draw jack-o-lanterns, skeletons, witches and cats, and uses Ed Emberley's "simple alphabet" method of drawing.
Halloween Crafts: Eerily Elegant Decor - Written by Louis Tate of the well known television show Bewitched, readers will find fifty beautiful, vintage looking Halloween crafts and party recipes and learn how to use them to create a special holiday.