History Of Halloween: 7 Creepy Tales Of Love And The Supernatural

history of halloween

Love is one of the great themes throughout history—a history that stretches back far beyond our modern age into a time of legend and folklore. So it figures that many folktales seem to revolve around matters of the heart. In true Halloween spirit, let's recount seven bone-chilling folk tales that are scarier than any horror movie in your Netflix queue. 

1. A Bride from Beyond the Grave
From the Falkenberg region of Germany comes the haunting tale of Liba and Guntram, which shows that true love cannot always halt the forces of evil if lovers stray from their paths. Betrothed to the beautiful Liba from birth, Guntram the knight is called away from their scheduled nuptials by an urgent diplomatic mission. Upon his delayed return, he gets lost in the woods and stumbles upon a haunted castle. Spending the night there, he is seduced by the spirit of an evil maiden who slips a ring on his finger just as she transforms into a dried up corpse in his arms. Fleeing back to his true love Liba the following morning, he finds that their love has fallen under a curse of his own doing. When the couple attempts to get married as planned, the ghost of the jilted maiden returns to claim the knight, who promptly dies...right after uttering his marriage vows.

2. The Fall of Don Juan
Stories of Don Juan's infamous bedroom conquests are still familiar in Western culture, yet according to legend, this Renaissance ladies' man met an end fraught with terror. After seducing the alluring Dona Ana by pretending to be her fiancé, Don Juan was assailed by Don Gonzalo, her enraged father. Don Juan proved triumphant, however, slaying the old man in the ensuing duel. But it didn't end there. When Don Juan encountered a stone statue of the old man that adorned his tomb, in his foolish pride he mockingly invited the statue to dine with him. Unfortunately, the statue was more than happy to oblige—and afterward, even happier to drag the prideful Don Jaun down to the flames of Hell, where he could exact revenge upon him for all eternity.

3. A Love Engraved in Stone
The ancient Aztecs told the story of star-crossed lovers Popocatepetl (Popo) and Ixtaccihautl (Ixtla), kept apart by the manipulation of a vengeful interloper. Popo went off to war to prove his worth to Ixtla, the daughter of the Aztec emperor. But another man, who sought the love of Ixtla, tricked her into thinking Popo had been killed in battle and that she was to marry him instead. Distraught over the loss, Ixtla died of grief during her wedding to the deceiver. When Popo at last returned to discover his beloved dead, he carried her to the peak of the highest mountain and grieved for days. Taking pity on them, the gods turned them both into stone. To this day, the volcano Popocatepetl stands alongside the mountain Ixtaccihautl, awaiting the day when the volcano will erupt and the two will once again become one.

4. Demon Lover
In ancient China, marrying for love was frowned upon, as parents arranged the unions of their children. Thus spread the cautionary tale of Shushuan, the humble son of a working class family who encountered Lady White, a mysterious noblewoman, while visiting his parents' gravesite. The two fell instantly in love, and Lady White begged Shushuan to marry her. When Lady White was revealed as a demonic apparition, Shushuan's parents sent him away to another town to escape her. Yet Lady White soon found him and put him under her spell. The two were wed, and it took the intervention of local monks to break Lady White's spell and free Shushuan. The demon was captured in a magical bowl and reverted to her true form — that of a white serpent. Although buried under a pagoda on holy ground, legend tells that when the pagoda burned down centuries later, the serpent was released. 

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5. Love's Labors Lost
In the days of the old Persian kings, a gifted sculptor named Farhat briefly encountered a beautiful huntress on a desert road. Her name was Anoush (Persian for "sweet"), and Farhat patiently waited in the desert for her to return so he could confess his love for her. When she finally did, he asked for her hand in marriage. Anoush agreed to become the sculptor's bride, but only if he used his skills to transform a nearby crag into an elaborate palace for her. Farhat consented, and spent years sculpting away at the rock. However, it wasn't until he finished that he learned of Anoush's deception—she had gone and married the King instead of Farhat. In despair, he hurled his hammer into the air, and it landed on his head, killing him. Intended as a shrine to love, the Castle of Anoush was turned into a place of pure evil, used in later years by Persia to imprison and torture their Armenian enemies.

6. When Magic Goes Wrong...
John Fian was a Scottish schoolmaster also known in his village for being a master of the dark arts. When he coerced one of his young students to help him cast a love spell on the boy's older sister, he wound up biting off more than he could chew. Fian demanded the boy secretly bring him some strands of his sister's hair to use in his magical charm. However, the sister discovered him in the act, and when the poor boy confessed his intention, she instead hatched a plan, instructing him to bring the sorcerer some strands from their milk cow instead. None the wiser, Fian cast the spell that night using the bovine hair, and for weeks on end found himself the target of the heifer's sexual desires. It's safe to say he never attempted such a spell again.

7. A Love That Conquered Death
The power of love is formidable in legend, as is shown in the Polynesian story of Hiku and Kawelu. Lovers completely devoted to one another, their bond was so strong they could not bear to be apart. When Hiku was called to his home village to attend to family matters, his bride missed him so much that she pined to death. A heartbroken Hiku determined to rescue her from the underworld, a shadowy realm at the edge of the ocean. Traveling there with Kawelu's brothers, Hiku lowered himself into the watery chasm, having smeared himself with rancid coconut oil to mimic the stench of corpses. After finding his departed wife, Hiku attempted to return, but the panicked ghost turned herself into a butterfly to escape back to the land of the dead. The persistent Hiku trapped the butterfly inside a coconut shell and returned to his village. After the butterfly was placed inside an incision made in Kawelu’s body, the young woman was restored to life, and never parted from her husband again.