How Popular Fall Traditions Got Started

Popular Fall Traditions

As fall festivals and activities kick into high gear, you may be wondering how they originated. The game of bobbing for apples is based on love. Oktoberfest was created to honor a royal wedding. The origin of haunted houses goes back to an eerie wax exhibit in England. There’s no doubt autumn traditions are here to stay. Let’s take a look at their history.

Bobbing for Apples

Have you ever tried to grab an apple with your teeth from a barrel full of water? This activity was once a British courting ritual. Each apple was given the name of an eligible bachelor. The ladies would try to capture the apple named after the man she desired. If she got it on the first try, it meant a “happily ever after” ending. It went downhill from there. 

How Oktoberfest Started

The beer-filled Oktoberfest celebration was created to commemorate a royal wedding on October 12th, 1810. The public joined the party a year after the couple got married. The annual celebration has grown ever since. Beer stands were replaced by beer tents in 1896.

Haunted Houses Keep Dazzling

The idea of scaring people with an attraction began in 19th century London when Madame Tussaud displayed realistic replicas of famous French people getting their heads chopped off. Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion is credited with sparking the rise in popularity of haunted houses, turning them into a cultural icon. The attraction, which opened in 1969, saw 82,000 visitors on a single day shortly after its debut.

I Want S’mores

This popular warm treat made over a campfire dates back to at least 1927, when a recipe for “some mores” was published in a Girl Scout handbook. The treat consists of a piece of chocolate and a roasted marshmallow squished between two graham crackers. 

Corn Mazes and Candy Corn

Candy corn was invented in the 1880’s by candy maker George Renninger. The tricolor treat, originally called “Chicken Feed”, was marketed to the masses by the end of that century. Corn mazes are a relatively new tradition that first popped up in 1993 at a college in Pennsylvania. Don Frantz, the creator, has also produced Super Bowl halftime shows and Broadway musicals. 

Pumpkin Carving

The Jack-O’-Lantern tradition dates back to the 1500’s and is based on a story told by the Irish. 

Stingy Jack made a deal with the Devil not to claim his soul. However, he learned when he died that God wasn’t going to accept him either. Jack was doomed to walk the earth for eternity. He only had a burning coal in a carved out turnip to light his way. Pumpkins, which more easily fit candles, later replaced turnips.


Knocking on doors for food on specific holidays dates back to at least the Middle Ages. It became popular in the United States in the 1920’s and ‘30’s. UNICEF got in on the tradition in the 1950’s, and “Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF” was born.

Pumpkin Pie Anyone?

According to historians, neither pumpkin pie nor turkey was part of the feast in Plymouth Colony to celebrate the first harvest. The model for the annual Thanksgiving meal was born after a magazine editor read about the 1621 feast. Recipes for turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie were published. The public quickly gobbled them up.

Get a Special Fall Treat

While you’re out enjoying a special activity this fall, treat yourself to a delicious homemade ice cream treat. Norwood Ice Cream is located in Eldersburg, Maryland. We offer many unique flavors made from scratch in our shop. Fall favorites include pumpkin spice, maple pecan, apple pie, and cinnamon. Visit us in person at 5957 Exchange Drive, Suite F. You can also call us at 410-875-7238.