In the United States, October 31st is a time for candy, costumes, and Halloween cocktails. If you’re planning a Halloween party, we’ve got some ideas for special potions to serve. Learn the history of Halloween facts, and impress your guests with easy Halloween cocktails and spooky alcoholic Halloween drinks.
A Short History of Halloween
The origins of Halloween begin across the ocean—specifically in Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. It is thought that Halloween is linked to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, a late-October holiday that occurred at the end of summer and before the start of winter. Unsurprisingly, the Celts associated winter with human death. On October 31st, the Celts believed that the boundary between our world and the spirit world was at its thinnest, allowing the ghosts of the dead to return to our realm. To earn good favor with spirits and communicate with deceased ancestors, the Celts would create large bonfires and offer food and drink to them. The Celtic people may have worn costumes during Samhain as well, most likely using the pelts of animals to cover themselves.
By the 9th century, Samhain was linked to a Christian holiday, which influenced its migration to the United States. The Christian Feast of All Saints occurred on November 1st, and All Souls Day was created by the church to occur on November 2nd. In an effort to convert more people to Christianity, the church decided to combine elements of the pagan Samhain with their own practices. “It’s widely believed today that the church was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related church-sanctioned holiday (Halloween 2018).” With this determination, October 31st became known as All Hallows’ Eve—the Eve of All Hallows (Saints) Day.
A History of Halloween in America
Early colonial settlers recognized aspects of All Hallows’ Eve, but due to their strict Protestant beliefs, they primarily centered their celebrations on the harvest and the church’s All Hallows Day traditions of honoring their dead. Halloween truly made its way into American culture during the mass migration of Irish immigrants to the United States during the Potato Famine of 1845-1849. These Irish immigrants began celebrating Halloween in America, which intrigued others. Boston University Master Lecturer of Rhetoric Regina Hansen says, “It looked like a really fun thing to do. So other people wanted to do it.”
The term Halloween came from a Scottish variant of All Hallows Eve—the Scots referred to the holiday as “All-Hallows-Even”, which when contracted, became “Hallowe’en.” Scottish poet Robert Burns popularized the term Halloween in his 1786 poem of the same title.
While you may not be offering refreshments to any ghosts this Halloween, you can try The Brewer’s Art Resurrection beer to get into the holiday spirit. The 7% ABV of this popular Abbey-style Dubbel will bring even the least lively of drinkers back to life. Add the Resurrection beer to your scary drinks at a Halloween party.
Bobbing For Apples: The Meaning Behind A Halloween Game
Mischief and scares are more often associated with Halloween than love and romance, but the history behind the Halloween game of bobbing for apples might change that view. When the Romans conquered Celtic territories in 43 A.D., it is believed that they incorporated their own late autumn holiday with Samhain. This Roman holiday honored Pomona, the goddess of fruit and trees. Symbolized by the apple, Pomona was a favorite goddess of Venus, the goddess of love. Therefore, the apple became known as a “love fruit.” The apple became frequently used in divination rituals, with apple peels being used to predict someone’s romantic future.
Bobbing for apples was originally a British courting ritual; ladies would mark an apple with their name, and potential suitors would dunk their heads into the water to bite into an apple, thus predicting who the lady would marry. The game remained popular into the 1800s, played primarily in Ireland. When the Irish came to the United States, they would bring this Roman-Celtic autumnal tradition with them.
If you want to avoid the mess of bobbing for apples, you might fall in love with the Austin Eastciders Blood Orange cider. Blending blood oranges with bittersweet heirloom apples, this cider has a semi-sweet, dry finish with a bloody good flavor. The cider is bright orange—a lovely accent to your holiday decor! It’s a memorable option to include in a selection of special Halloween cocktails.
Why We Have Candy At Halloween
It’s estimated that Americans purchase 600 million pounds of candy for Halloween, but would you guess that candy hasn’t always been a part of Halloween celebrations? The practice of handing out candy at Halloween is linked to Samhain. Remember the offerings to the dead that were previously mentioned? One of those offerings was called a “soul cake”. The soul cake was made with expensive spices such as saffron and currants. In ancient Celtic times, people began dressing as ghosts to disguise themselves from the spirits lingering in their realm and go “mumming”, where they would perform and do tricks in exchange for soul cakes. This evolved into “souling,” where children would be sent to promise to pray for family members in order to receive a soul cake. In Ireland and Scotland, “mumming” led way to “guising,” where people would don costumes and do tricks for treats.
It wasn’t until the late 1930s that trick-or-treating became common in the United States, but the treats handed out were often homemade baked goods, fruit, nuts, or toys. The 1950s gave way to the popularization of handing out wrapped candy on Halloween, and by the 1960s, candy was the gold standard of Halloween treats. This is partially due to the candy industry’s attempt to create a fall holiday—in 1916, candy companies established Candy Day (later retitled Sweetest Day), a day linking friendship and candy together that occurred on the second Saturday of October. However, as trick-or-treating became more and more popular, the industry saw Halloween as an opportunity to market its products as convenient and easy to buy in bulk. Parents liked the ease of Halloween candy and were also influenced by the growing panic over items such as razor blades or poison allegedly being put in unwrapped treats. Therefore, candy became the best option to give to trick-or-treaters on Halloween.
Incorporate novelty Halloween candy into a batch Halloween cocktail recipe that’s sure to draw gasps from party guests.
Clown Blood Sangria
1 750ml bottle of Cabernet
2 cups pomegranate juice
1/4 cup Triple Sec
Let the sangria sit for at least four hours before serving. Garnish the glasses of the Clown Blood Sangria with gummy body parts for creepy Halloween alcoholic drinks.