Halloween History

By Jeannette Olds  •   4 minute read

Halloween History

Why is Halloween Scary??

A scary old witch with a wart on her nose and crocked gnarly fingers, is stirring a bubbling smelly potion in her black cauldron.  Leaning against the wall is her dirty old broomstick, just waiting to take flight. At her feet is her black cat, with green eyes, licking his paws while watching the witch with interest.  Her house is creepy, dark and dirty and everywhere you look a spider is sitting patiently in their web, just watching. Bats are flying around outside her window waiting to escort her to the other witches and deliver the green steaming potion to her unsuspecting victims.  

This is just one of hundreds of stories we replicate at Halloween.  Every year on the 31 October, our kids dress up representing witches, devils, monsters and princesses, going house to house, trick or treating for candy.  Some people decorate their homes using spiders, skeletons, and jack-o-lanterns other put up the "NO CANDY" here signs.  


Now that we own the Lollyshop, and I saw all the different Halloween sweets, I wondered where the history of some of these Halloween icons came from?  There are many opinions but below are the ones that took my fancy.  I hope you enjoy them.


Witches are recorded as having existed since 721 B.C.  Single old women, living alone with their pets, often cats, were thought to be evil, doing the devils work.  For centuries many of these women where trialled and killed as witches, although we know now that they were healers using natural methods. 

Not all countries saw these isolated women as bad witches.  2000 years ago in Celtic folklore there used to be a pagan goddess known as "the crone,"  The crone was also known as "the old one" or "Earth mother," who symbolized wisdom, change, and the turning of the seasons. 

Today our picture of witches is conjured up from books and movies and has become a perfect fit for Halloween festivities. 


Gummi Witches Halloween Lollipops


Bats were known as an animal that witches kept, a gift from the devil himself.   In medieval times one myth was that if a bat was spotted flying around one's house three times, it meant that someone in that house would soon die. Another myth was that if a bat flew into your house on Halloween, it was a sign that your house was haunted because ghosts had let the bat in.

The Celtic people from Scotland and Ireland celebrated Samhain, by lighting bonfires.  Bats, which people knew very little about,  would come out at night flying around the bonfire people thought the bats were spirits returning.  What we know now is the bonfires would attract bugs — which would attract bug-munching bats….no spirits involved just hungry bats!

Vampire Bats


Spiders are creepy crawly and put fear into some people any day of the year and we magnify this at Halloween. They join the ranks of bats and black cats in folklore as being evil companions of witches. Some superstitions include: If a spider falls into a candle-lit lamp and is consumed by the flame, witches are nearby or If you spot a spider on Halloween, it means that the spirit of a deceased loved one is watching over you. Jeepers, that doesn’t help the reputation of spiders

 Sour Spiders Hairy Spiders

Halloween Colours of orange and black are everywhere but have you ever wondered where the actually stem from?  Well history tells us they come from the  pagan celebration of autumn and the harvest.  Orange symbolizes the colours of the crops and turning  autumn leaves, while black marks the "death" of summer.  Exact opposite for us here in New Zealand but Green (Spring) and yellow (Summer) doesn’t seem right does it?

Orange Jelly Beans Jelly Beans Black


Jack-o-lanterns or pumpkin carving is not huge in New Zealand  but we still get many decorations in the image of a jack-o lanterns.  Celtic folklore says a drunken farmer, named Jack, tricked the devil, but his trickery resulted in him being turned away from both the gates of heaven and hell after he died. Having no choice but to wander around the darkness of purgatory, Jack made a lantern from a turnip and a burning lump of coal that the devil had tossed him from hell.  Jack used the lantern to guide his lost soul.


The ancient Celtic people believed that placing Jack-o'-lanterns outside would help guide lost spirits home during Halloween and the scary carved faces would scare away evil spirits. Jack-o-lanterns were originally made using a carved out turnip with a small candle inside.  During the Irish potato famine of 1846, Irish families to fled to North America and took the tradition with them. Since turnips were hard to come by in the United States pumpkins were used as a substitute.


Candy Corn is not spooky at all and was invented in the late 1880s in America and began to be mass-produced in the early 1900s. The yellow, orange and white candy — meant to resemble a corn kernel — was a huge hit and remains a popular part of American Halloween to this day.  Annually 15,875,733 kilos (9 billion pieces) are made which is increasing every year due to international requirements growing….Wow that’s a lot of candy corn!

Candy Corn

Whether you like Halloween, or not, it is getting bigger every year.  If you are planning to welcome trick or treaters or are having a Halloween party at home, here at the LollyShop we take Halloween seriously and you will find some great Halloween sweets that only come out on the spookiest night of the year….visit us online or instore today…if you dare!!!

Wishing you a Spook-tacular Halloween…….Jeannette

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