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  #1  
Old 10-17-2011, 05:44 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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When/how did orange and black become the colors for Halloween?

See subject. Just wondering.
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  #2  
Old 10-17-2011, 06:19 PM
Frylock Frylock is online now
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Originally Posted by Leo Bloom View Post
See subject. Just wondering.
WAG: They're the colors of pumpkins and night time. So, whenever these became iconic of the holiday.
  #3  
Old 10-17-2011, 06:28 PM
Rachellelogram Rachellelogram is online now
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I don't know that there is a factual answer to this question. It's likely been lost in the sands of time and myth. That said, it's board policy not to posit WAGs as the first response to a GQ. It's been happening a lot lately. If you can't give a scholarly answer, wait for someone else to happen by instead and PM the OP with your WAG.

The most scholarly-sounding information I can find about the topic is here: "Orange, being the most prevalent autumn tone, is derived from the pumpkin and leaves... The color orange also signifies strength and endurance. We don’t know if that is for the holiday or strength and endurance at the harvest time. Since the Celtics were involved in wars with Julius Caesar, they may have believed the color orange gave courage to those who wore the color during battle.

Halloween was once... a festival of the dead. Death is usually associated with darkness and absence of light signified by the color black."

I'd also like to add that commercialized Halloween in America has appropriated certain portions of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead, in Mexico) over the years. Black is the color of mourning and has been for centuries: "The custom of wearing unadorned black clothing for mourning dates back at least to the Roman Empire, when the toga pulla, made of dark-colored wool, was worn during periods of mourning."

Last edited by Rachellelogram; 10-17-2011 at 06:32 PM..
  #4  
Old 10-17-2011, 06:38 PM
njtt njtt is offline
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Originally Posted by rachelellogram View Post
I don't know that there is a factual answer to this question. It's likely been lost in the sands of time and myth.
As Halloween (in anything remortely resembling its modern form) does not go back beyond the early (or even, perhaps, mid) 20th century, I very much doubt whether that is true.

I would lay odds that Frylock is right. Orange is from pumpkins, and black is from night, or from being the color of evil an witchcraft in general (as discussed in another very recent thread).
  #5  
Old 10-17-2011, 06:40 PM
Frylock Frylock is online now
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Originally Posted by rachelellogram View Post
it's board policy not to posit WAGs as the first response to a GQ. "[/COLOR]
It is? A page search for the string "wag" turns up nothing on either the rules or the etiquette threads.
  #6  
Old 10-17-2011, 07:12 PM
Senegoid Senegoid is offline
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Originally Posted by rachelellogram:
it's board policy not to posit WAGs as the first response to a GQ. "[/color]

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frylock View Post
It is? A page search for the string "wag" turns up nothing on either the rules or the etiquette threads.
Ah, but I read some of the rules and I remember that, or something similar. It said something to the effect that GQ's should not be answered with stuff other than serious meaningful answers, but once there are some of those, then it's okay to start "discussing" with WAG's, jokes, tangents, snark, or whatever. (Mods: Am I understand that aright?)
  #7  
Old 10-17-2011, 07:20 PM
Senegoid Senegoid is offline
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Ah, but I read some of the rules and I remember that, or something similar. It said something to the effect that GQ's should not be answered with stuff other than serious meaningful answers, but once there are some of those, then it's okay to start "discussing" with WAG's, jokes, tangents, snark, or whatever. (Mods: Am I understand that aright?)
Okay, I think I was at least on the right track. Here 'tis:
In the GQ board rules, Gfactor wrote:
7. Guesses, WAGs, and speculation. We permit some educated guessing. Truly wild guesses aren't especially helpful. We have some experts who post here. If you don't have much information, give an expert a chance to answer by waiting until a question is about to fall off the first page before making a guess. If you post a factual claim, be prepared to back it up with a citation. If someone asks for a citation, don't take it personally, we're trying to get to the facts here, and that's how it's done.

(ETA: Okay, now we've had 4 posts on the subject of the OP followed by three on the hijack of discussing the rules. Is this thread on schedule to become a threadwreck already? )

Last edited by Senegoid; 10-17-2011 at 07:23 PM..
  #8  
Old 10-17-2011, 07:54 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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I didn't mind the WAG as a first answer. It shows the respondent has a real thought, and is throwing it out for brainstorming (in this case, in fact, the consensus agrees with him/her).

That having been said, keep plugging away at a real answer, and full-goofing around ahead!
  #9  
Old 10-17-2011, 08:00 PM
silenus silenus is online now
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That's pretty much my guess as well. Orange is the color of Fall, with changing leaves and pumpkins and the like. Black evokes night, dread, horror, witches, Kanye West and other horrors.
  #10  
Old 10-17-2011, 08:54 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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To Frylock (I've taken it into my head to stoutly defend you): I'mma let you finish...
  #11  
Old 10-17-2011, 09:43 PM
Rachellelogram Rachellelogram is online now
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Originally Posted by njtt View Post
As Halloween (in anything remortely resembling its modern form) does not go back beyond the early (or even, perhaps, mid) 20th century, I very much doubt whether that is true.
Halloween and associated traditions have been around for over a millennium. What do you mean by "resembling its modern form," anyway? That's a weasel phrase. Holidays borrow from other holidays, that's how it's worked for all of human history. Halloween is still a harvest festival, hence the pumpkins and corn mazes and apple cider. Samhain was a harvest festival that happened the same day we celebrate Halloween. Connect the dots.

Moreover, the word Halloween was "first attested in the 16th century and represents a Scottish variant of the fuller All-Hallows-Even ('evening'), that is, the night before All Hallows Day." And as I said above, Halloween's origins go back as far as Samhain, "a Gaelic harvest festival held on October 31–November 1... The date of Samhain was associated with the Catholic All Saints' Day (and later All Souls' Day) from at least the 8th century, and both the secular Gaelic and the Catholic liturgical festival have influenced the secular customs now connected with Halloween."

There were other interesting beeps and boops along the way from Samhain to Halloween (with All Saints Day and Dia de los Muertos), but as they aren't strictly related to the topic, you can research them yourself.

As far as I can tell, we are not able to pin down the exact day or time Samhain started. It is not possible to know when exactly the color orange became associated with the holiday. Hence lost in the murk, etc etc. If you can come back with a cite to prove me wrong, then do it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Senegoid View Post
(ETA: Okay, now we've had 4 posts on the subject of the OP followed by three on the hijack of discussing the rules. Is this thread on schedule to become a threadwreck already? )
The question has been answered.

Last edited by Rachellelogram; 10-17-2011 at 09:47 PM..
  #12  
Old 10-17-2011, 10:05 PM
silenus silenus is online now
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Originally Posted by rachelellogram View Post

The question has been answered.
Like hell it has.
  #13  
Old 10-17-2011, 10:36 PM
Gary T Gary T is offline
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Like hell it has.
I believe she was saying that the question about the rules has been answered, thus no need for the thread to continue down that road.
  #14  
Old 10-17-2011, 10:45 PM
silenus silenus is online now
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In that case I agree.
  #15  
Old 10-17-2011, 10:54 PM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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Datapoint: the ancient Celts didn't have pumpkins. They probably carved turnips. I do therefore suspect the orange comes from the American adoption of the tradition.
  #16  
Old 10-17-2011, 11:03 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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Originally Posted by jjimm View Post
Datapoint: the ancient Celts didn't have pumpkins. They probably carved turnips. I do therefore suspect the orange comes from the American adoption of the tradition.
The Celts didn't have autumn colors (as was suggested here)?
  #17  
Old 10-18-2011, 01:20 AM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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Well, having spent 10 autumns in Ireland I'll also add that you hardly get any orange foliage either. It's mainly brown.
  #18  
Old 10-18-2011, 02:52 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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Originally Posted by jjimm View Post
Datapoint: the ancient Celts didn't have pumpkins. They probably carved turnips. I do therefore suspect the orange comes from the American adoption of the tradition.
Concur. The British Isles don't natively have very much orange anything (this has come up before in relation to questions about the naming of the colour orange). We've got:
Sunsets
Fire
One or two orange flowers
One or two plants with orangey-red berrries.
  #19  
Old 10-18-2011, 03:26 AM
BigT BigT is offline
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This site, which agrees with all the information given here so far, claims that orange and black came after the holiday was imported to America and after the switch to using pumpkins instead of turnips. It states that the orange means pumpkin, and the black means night.
  #20  
Old 10-18-2011, 03:33 AM
An Gadaí An Gadaí is offline
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We carved turnips as a kid, I don't think I saw a pumpkin until I was about 20.
  #21  
Old 10-18-2011, 06:43 AM
samclem samclem is offline
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Originally Posted by An Gadaí View Post
We carved turnips as a kid, I don't think I saw a pumpkin until I was about 20.
...but you did have night over there, didn't you?
  #22  
Old 10-18-2011, 07:09 AM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
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Originally Posted by njtt View Post
As Halloween (in anything remortely resembling its modern form) does not go back beyond the early (or even, perhaps, mid) 20th century, I very much doubt whether that is true.

I would lay odds that Frylock is right. Orange is from pumpkins, and black is from night, or from being the color of evil an witchcraft in general (as discussed in another very recent thread).
I remember trick or treating in the early '40s, maybe 1943. There were certainly parties in the 50s. I think orange and black were the colors then too. But displays did not generally extend beyond carved pumpkins.

I think it is basically market-driven, to fill the gap between back-to-school and Christmas. This whole cinquo-de-Mayo business is new since I left the states and has not yet surfaced in Canada, but seems clearly market-driven.
  #23  
Old 10-18-2011, 08:46 AM
njtt njtt is offline
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Originally Posted by rachelellogram View Post
Halloween and associated traditions have been around for over a millennium. What do you mean by "resembling its modern form," anyway? That's a weasel phrase. Holidays borrow from other holidays, that's how it's worked for all of human history. Halloween is still a harvest festival, hence the pumpkins and corn mazes and apple cider. Samhain was a harvest festival that happened the same day we celebrate Halloween. Connect the dots.
By "modern form" I mean dressing up in costumes, decorating your house with pumpkins and motifs from horror movies, having fancy dress parties, children going round the streets in costume collecting candy and saying "trick or treat," indeed, the very idea of Hallowen as a "celebration": in short virtually all the customs and emotions associated with modern Halloween except the name, the date, and a vague association with the idea of evil spirits being abroad (now, but not formerly, understood in an ironic fashion). Virtually everything that people now do to celebrate Halloween began in America within the past century. Probably some of these Halloween customs are echoes of traditions brought to America by various different immigrant groups, but they have all been much transformed, and the package did not come together into anything like the Halloween we experience today until the 20th century. It seems to have changed a lot even in fairly recent decades, with horror costumes being progressively supplanted by other types of fancy dress, and the "tricking" aspect of trick-or-treating having virtually disappeared (at least in my experience of California Halloween). The connection with any 'ancient traditions' is extremely tenuous, and becoming more so.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hari Seldon View Post
I remember trick or treating in the early '40s, maybe 1943. There were certainly parties in the 50s. I think orange and black were the colors then too. But displays did not generally extend beyond carved pumpkins.
That is entirely consistent with these customs having originated in the early 20th century, as I said.

Last edited by njtt; 10-18-2011 at 08:47 AM..
  #24  
Old 10-18-2011, 09:19 AM
njtt njtt is offline
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Incidentally, the big clue here is the fact that, until very recently (10 or 20 years) Halloween was scarcely celebrated or even noticed at all outside of the United States. If there were ever ancient Halloween traditions in Europe, they had almost completely died out by the 20th century, if not well before. Now, of course, thanks to Hollywood and American TV shows shown in Europe (and, no doubt, marketing by sweet manufacturers and party supply businesses) it has spread to Britain and perhaps to other European countries.

When I was a kid, growing up in England in the 1950s and '60s, it would never have occurred to me, or any of the other kids or families I knew to 'do' anything whatever for Halloween. We would not even have been aware of the date, and the references to it we sometimes might have heard in American sitcoms were baffling allusions to an alien holiday. It was not until the late 1980s that I can recall first seeing a little girl in a witch costume, in England, trying to beg candy from people in the street, and she clearly wasn't having much luck.

Halloween is a U.S. invention, and as such it can't be very old. As it happens, it is not even nearly as old as the United States.
  #25  
Old 10-18-2011, 09:42 AM
njtt njtt is offline
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Originally Posted by Leo Bloom View Post
The Celts didn't have autumn colors (as was suggested here)?
Has anyone produced any evidence that the Celts (who were pagans, and so unaware even of All Saints Day and All Hallows Eve) celebrated Halloween in any way at all? They may well have celebrated the harvest during the autumn, but harvest festivals are still widely celebrated, and are quite different and distinct from Halloween. In modern America, Thanksgiving is the principal harvest festival.

The distinctive smokey orange color of modern Halloween decorations is clearly the color of pumpkins, not the (sometimes orange-tinged) brown of autumn leaves.

The pumpkin, incidentally, is a plant native to North America, and does not grow naturally in Europe. There can be no 'ancient' traditions association All Hallows Eve and pumpkins.
  #26  
Old 10-18-2011, 09:48 AM
TriPolar TriPolar is online now
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I'm guessing it was a phishing scheme.
  #27  
Old 10-18-2011, 10:54 AM
bordelond bordelond is offline
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The real question about Halloween colors is:

When did purple get to be essentially an "official" Halloween color? Never saw it as a kid in the '70s, see it all the time now at craft stores and at big-box retailers.
  #28  
Old 10-18-2011, 11:16 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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Originally Posted by bordelond View Post
The real question about Halloween colors is:

When did purple get to be essentially an "official" Halloween color? Never saw it as a kid in the '70s, see it all the time now at craft stores and at big-box retailers.
Purple and orange are two members of a triad, separated by 120 degrees on a colour wheel (the third being a shade of green). this might partly explain why it's becoming popular alongside orange (and black, but everything goes with black)

Last edited by Mangetout; 10-18-2011 at 11:17 AM..
  #29  
Old 10-18-2011, 12:05 PM
SnakesCatLady SnakesCatLady is offline
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Originally Posted by njtt View Post
Has anyone produced any evidence that the Celts (who were pagans, and so unaware even of All Saints Day and All Hallows Eve) celebrated Halloween in any way at all? They may well have celebrated the harvest during the autumn, but harvest festivals are still widely celebrated, and are quite different and distinct from Halloween. In modern America, Thanksgiving is the principal harvest festival.

The distinctive smokey orange color of modern Halloween decorations is clearly the color of pumpkins, not the (sometimes orange-tinged) brown of autumn leaves.

The pumpkin, incidentally, is a plant native to North America, and does not grow naturally in Europe. There can be no 'ancient' traditions association All Hallows Eve and pumpkins.
The Celtic holiday was Samhain.
  #30  
Old 10-18-2011, 02:35 PM
Apollyon Apollyon is offline
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Purple and orange are two members of a triad...(the third being a shade of green). this might partly explain why it's becoming popular alongside orange (and black, but everything goes with black)
And may explain why some witches are green.
  #31  
Old 10-18-2011, 02:50 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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Black and orange are also the eye-catching school colors of Princeton University, the mascot of which is the tiger: http://www.princeton.edu/main/about/
  #32  
Old 10-18-2011, 02:54 PM
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Halloween is a U.S. invention, and as such it can't be very old. As it happens, it is not even nearly as old as the United States.
It actually goes back about 3000 years, in various forms. What started out as Samhain/harvest festivals degenerated into nights of drunken revelry and vandalism. In the early 20th century people tried to put a stop to that by making it a kid's holiday. So while it goes back a very long way, it's been repurposed.

A long lost History channel special is my cite.
  #33  
Old 10-18-2011, 07:08 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is online now
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Originally Posted by An Gadaí View Post
We carved turnips as a kid, I don't think I saw a pumpkin until I was about 20.
Since I'm a 'Murican all I ever had was pumpkins.... which are a bit different than turnips. How does one carve a turnip? What are the differences? (Assuming you've carved a pumpkin as well)

You see, I have a couple of GIANT turnips in the backyard garden and it might be interesting to try a turnip this year instead of a pumpkin...
  #34  
Old 10-18-2011, 07:14 PM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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Turnips are solid. I remember trying to carve one out for a lantern when I was a kid - I got nowhere.
  #35  
Old 10-18-2011, 07:47 PM
Lamia Lamia is offline
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Originally Posted by bordelond View Post
The real question about Halloween colors is:

When did purple get to be essentially an "official" Halloween color? Never saw it as a kid in the '70s, see it all the time now at craft stores and at big-box retailers.
For a second I was wondering what on earth you were talking about, but then I remembered seeing Halloween decorations that did use purple. It's my impression that purple isn't really considered a Halloween color, but that it sort of stands in for or enhances the black -- like how purple or blue are sometimes used in comics instead of flat black.
  #36  
Old 10-18-2011, 10:14 PM
An Gadaí An Gadaí is offline
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Since I'm a 'Murican all I ever had was pumpkins.... which are a bit different than turnips. How does one carve a turnip? What are the differences? (Assuming you've carved a pumpkin as well)

You see, I have a couple of GIANT turnips in the backyard garden and it might be interesting to try a turnip this year instead of a pumpkin...
We only ever did it with small ones. As Mangetout says they're hard work. Removing the hard innards of a turnip is harder than getting out the gooey centre of a pumpkin. (I carved my first pumpkin last year in Ohio ) With small pumpkins especially there's less scope to do designs and it's harder to fix if you mess up!

There is probably some culinary tool you can use that would make scooping out the centre of a turnip easier though. We only ever used a knife. And walked barefoot uphill 10 miles to school both ways in the pouring hot august frost.
  #37  
Old 10-18-2011, 11:48 PM
UDS UDS is offline
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Incidentally, the big clue here is the fact that, until very recently (10 or 20 years) Halloween was scarcely celebrated or even noticed at all outside of the United States. If there were ever ancient Halloween traditions in Europe, they had almost completely died out by the 20th century, if not well before . . . When I was a kid, growing up in England in the 1950s and '60s, it would never have occurred to me, or any of the other kids or families I knew to 'do' anything whatever for Halloween. We would not even have been aware of the date, and the references to it we sometimes might have heard in American sitcoms were baffling allusions to an alien holiday. It was not until the late 1980s that I can recall first seeing a little girl in a witch costume, in England, trying to beg candy from people in the street, and she clearly wasn't having much luck.
That’s because Hallowe’en in England was largely rebranded as “bonfire night”, held on 5 November to commemorate the suppression of Guy Fawkes’ conspiracy. But of course that didn’t happen outside Britain.

Hallowe’en is not a US invention, though the associations with pumpkins and candy are certainly a US contribution to the tradition. When I was growing up in Ireland, in the 60s and 70s, Hallowe’en was a major event (for children) and we were largely unaware that it had an American manifestation. We dressed in costumes - by way of disguise, but not necessarily ghost or ghoul-related - and went from house to house, where we expected to be given not candy, but fruits and nuts. Then we lit bonfires, consumed what we had been given and played hallowe’en games. And my parents had done pretty much the same when they were children.

This was essentially a Celtic harvest festival, and I think the US contribution was to combine it with customs and associations taken from southern European day-of-the-dead traditions to produce the distinctively American version of the holiday.
  #38  
Old 10-19-2011, 12:30 AM
Gary Robson Gary Robson is offline
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Moderating: Moved thread GQ->Boo!

[moderating]
Since this is a Halloween thread, I've moved it to the Boo! forum.
[/moderating]
 



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