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Halloween Superstitions

Halloween has always been a holiday filled with mystery, magic and superstition. It is celebrated on the night of October 31. The word Halloween is a shortening of All Hallows' !ening also "nown as Hallowe'en or All Hallows' !e. It began as a #eltic end$of$summer festi!al during which people felt especially close to deceased relati!es and friends. %or these friendly spirits, they set places at the dinner table, left treats on doorsteps and along the side of the road and lit candles to help lo!ed ones find their way bac" to the spirit world. Today's Halloween ghosts are often depicted as more fearsome and male!olent, and our customs and superstitions are scarier too. &e a!oid crossing paths with blac" cats, afraid that they might bring us bad luc". This idea has its roots in the 'iddle Ages, when many people belie!ed that witches a!oided detection by turning themsel!es into cats. &e try not to wal" under ladders for the same reason. This superstition may ha!e come from the ancient gyptians, who belie!ed that triangles were sacred( it also may ha!e something to do with the fact that wal"ing under a leaning ladder tends to be fairly unsafe. And around Halloween, especially, we try to a!oid brea"ing mirrors, stepping on crac"s in the road or spilling salt. )ut what about the Halloween traditions and beliefs that today's tric"$or$treaters ha!e forgotten all about* 'any of these obsolete rituals focused on the future instead of the past and the li!ing instead of the dead. In particular, many had to do with helping young women identify their future husbands and reassuring them that they would someday+with luc", by ne,t Halloween+be married. In 1-th$century Ireland, a matchma"ing coo" might bury a ring in her mashed potatoes on Halloween night, hoping to bring true lo!e to the diner who found it. Another tale had it that if a young woman ate a sugary concoction made out of walnuts, ha.elnuts and nutmeg before bed on Halloween night she would dream about her future husband. /oung women tossed apple$peels o!er their shoulders, hoping that the peels would fall on the floor in the shape of their future husbands' initials. Other rituals were more competiti!e. At some Halloween parties, the first guest to find a burr on a chestnut$hunt would be the first to marry( at others, the first successful apple$bobber would be the first down the aisle.

Of course, whether we're as"ing for romantic ad!ice or trying to a!oid se!en years of bad luc", each one of these Halloween superstitions relies on the good will of the !ery same 0spirits0 whose presence the early #elts felt so "eenly.