A prominent emblem of modern Halloween festivities, the pumpkin was long revered as a symbol of fertility and protection against evil. Today's grotesque hollowed-out pumpkins, lit from within by candles, were originally intended to protect revelers by scaring away any evil spirits abroad on the particular night. Nowadays, this function seems to be increasingly forgotten as poplar mythology revels in tales of pumpkin monsters and pumpkin-headed demons, leading successive generations of children into the mistaken belief that pumpkins themselves represent evil and may be in league with witches, vampires and so forth.
In keeping with the original idea that pumpkins bestowed protection against evil was the old tradition that they were best planted on Good Friday. Once growing, they should never be pointed at: to do so inflicts the power of the evil eye and stunts their further development.
Witch lore suggested that pumpkin seeds could be consumed to calm an excessively passionate nature, and that when mixed into a paste with oil and rubbed on the skin they eradicated freckles.
Cassell Dictionary of Witchcraft David Pickering Pg. 216
Here are some common superstitions that have long been a part of the folklore around this time of tear:
Burning candles inside a Jack O’ Lantern keeps evil spirits away.
If you don’t burn candles on Samhain, you will suffer bad luck the rest of the year.
If you gaze into the flame of a candle on Samhain, you will be able to see the future.
If you allow a fire to burn out on Samhain, you will have bad luck the rest of the year unless it is relight by a priest.
If you see a spider on Samhain, then it is likely that the spirit of a dead loved one is watching you.
If you want to meet a witch on this night, put your clothes on inside out and walk backwards.
If you give out nuts to children on Samhain, you will be protected from the Devil.
If you ring a bell on Samhain, then the dark spirits will be scared away! It’s a good thing that a lot of doorbells are rang on that night.
If a bat flies around your house three times on Samhain, you will die within the year.
To ward off bad spirits, bury animal bones in your front yard.
If the flame of a candle flickers and turns blue, there is a spirit in the room.
All souls in purgatory are released for 48 hours to roam the earth on Samhain.
If you float egg yolks in a bowl of water on this night, you will see patterns that will tell you about your future.
If you eat a hazelnut on Samhain night and fall asleep, you will dream of your future spouse.
The first person to go apple bobbing and successfully catch and entire apple in their mouth would also be the first to marry.
Knocking on wood on Samhain will keep bad luck away.
Gazing into the flame of a candle on Samhain will allow you to see your future.
If you look down and you are casting no shadow at all, then you are in danger of having an evil spirit steal your soul.
If you walk backwards down a staircase holding a mirror and candle, you will see the face of your future wife or husband.
If you blindfold yourself and go out into the garden on Samhain and pull up Kale, the roots will tell you whether or not your future wife or husband will be tall or short, old or young, or healthy or unhealthy.