Many coins are associated with holidays – Christmas, Valentine’s Day, the Fourth of July and more. Some coins even bring to mind Halloween and its “spooky” traditions! But how did this October holiday become such an eerie ritual?
From an ancient pagan festival
Halloween came from the ancient Celtic festival Samhain – celebrated in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and parts of England. Samhain began on the evening of October 31st, and ushered in the Celtic New Year on November 1st. The Celts believed the worlds of the living and the dead were blurred during Samhain. And that spirits of the deceased walked upon the earth. Fearful of these spirits, people dressed up in spooky costumes to fool the ghosts into thinking they too were of the spirit world!
When Christianity came to Britain, church leaders felt the best way to convert people to their religion was to include their pagan rituals. November 1st was Christian All Saints’ Day and the 2nd was All Souls’ Day. So October 31st became the Eve of All Saints, or All Hallows’ Eve. This evolved into “Halloween.” So our modern holiday comes from both Christian and pagan rituals.
Coin-related traditions of Halloween
Before trick or treating, kids in Ireland and Scotland had their own dress-up tradition. They put on costumes and went door to door for snacks and coins. To earn rewards, the children were asked to do a song or joke or story.
2018 Canada Rhodium Plated 1 oz. Silver $20 Nocturnal Wolf
The All Hallows’ Eve dinner in Ireland was a kale, potato and onion dish. It was known as colcannon. Clean coins were wrapped in baking paper and stirred into the dish. Children who found coins were allowed to keep them. Another Irish tradition was barnbrack cake. This fruit bread was baked with coins in it and served as dessert on All Hallows’ Eve. Just as with colcannon, children were allowed to keep any coins they found.
Halloween-related coin designs
In 2017, the Cook Islands issued a 1 oz. silver coin that depicts and is in the shape of a Jack-O-Lantern. The Halloween ritual of carving scary faces into pumpkins also goes back to the ancient festival of Samhain. Though pumpkins weren’t available, turnips were hollowed out and carved with eerie faces. They held burning embers to ward off evil spirits.
Palau 1/2 Gram Gold $1 Pirate Skull
Other collectibles that bring Halloween to mind include a 2018 rhodium-plated Canada silver coin depicting a wolf howling in the moonlight and a hefty 2 oz. silver round depicting a pirate’s remains on the ocean floor next to a treasure chest and sunken ship. Do pirates appeal to you as a Halloween theme? Here’s an affordable 99.99% pure gold $1 coin from the island republic of Palau in the shape of a skull and cross bones!
More spooky designs are sure to come!
Many people don’t know the origins of Halloween. But this holiday’s traditions of home decorations, costumes, trick or treating and Jack-O-Lanterns becomes ever more popular. So coin designs related to Halloween are likely to continue and flourish!
Have a favorite coin design related to Halloween traditions? Please share it with our other readers: