A cartoon illustration of a pumpkin with a carving knife and blood on the floor to signify Halloween. By Oddball Times

After eating an entire packet of Nerds, two packets of popping candy, and spending a whopping four minutes on the internet, I’ve discovered the following about Halloween and its origins…

Pumpkin Carving:

This tradition dates back to Britain when a 3 year old boy named Sam Hain decided that he hated eating his vegetables, in particular turnips, and took his revenge by removing the insides and carving them with angry faces. The vegetables were ruined so his mother gave them to the pigs and she allowed him to have his meat and potatoes in peace. This became a ritual each Autumn when other children in his village heard of his shenanigans, Autumn being the best time for root vegetables and the best time to refuse them. Sam did try defacing a sprout it is told but he didn’t get far.

Eating Candy:

This was also introduced by a boy, a descendant of Sam Hain named Hal Owen in 1832. He decided that like his great grandfather, given that once a year he could go without eating his vegetables, he would replace them with candy. Of course in those days you didn’t get the variety of candy you can today but with so many cauldrons in the village he was able to melt sugar and add his favourite cow-cream to make his version of butterscotch candy with the help of his friend Milton Hershey. When a local busy body who called himself a reporter published his so-called Penny Press, like reporters of today, he misspelled Hal’s name as Hall oween!


This ritual is linked to a very sad occasion when Hal turned 10. He decided that in addition to hating vegetables he also hated people. Hal poisoned the people in his village with his handmade candy and he then took his mother’s carving knife and carved human faces on all the pumpkins. He then carved pumpkin shapes on the dead villagers’ faces. When the remaining villagers found out who was behind these mass murders they hunted him down. He was able to escape by dressing in his late mother’s outfit of a long black dress and pointy hat. There is a legend started by a storytelling carpenter that he is still around today, his mum’s old clothes having been replaced over the years by a workman’s overall and an inside-out mask of William Shatner.

So the next time you feel the need to put on a costume, eat candy or carve a pumpkin, remember the completely insane Hal Owen to whom you owe all of this annual madness.

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