Teaching overview

Learning points

  • The "scientific" method of identifying a witch used to be that they would float in water – if they were innocent, they sank.
  • Samhainophobia is the fear of Halloween.
  • Many people couldn't afford a coffin, so they were buried in a white sheet instead – which is why ghosts are shown as having sheets over them.

Curriculum keywords

  • History
  • Phobias
  • Parasitism

5 things you didn't know

Scared of Halloween

1. If someone has samhainophobia (SAH-win-uh-FO-bee-uh), it means that they have a crippling fear of Halloween.

Identifying witches

2. Centuries ago, the “scientific” method of identifying a witch was to tie them up and throw them into water – if they were guilty of witchcraft, they floated; if they were innocent, they sank.

Real-life vampire

3. Elizabeth Bathory, a Hungarian countess, lived like a real vampire back in the 16th century – she killed hundreds of young girls to drink their blood and even bathed in it as part of her beauty routine!

Ghosts and sheets

4. A wooden coffin used to be too expensive for most people to buy, so the dead were wrapped in white cloth instead – and this is why ghosts are often shown as human shapes with a sheet draped over them!

Parasites can cause zombies

5. Some parasites create zombie-like animals – the Cordyceps parasite causes its victims to drag themselves to die in a place surrounded by lots of other animals so that the infection can spread!

Spark a discussion

  • What was the method once used to identify a witch?
  • What is samhainophobia?
  • Why do we often see ghosts shown as having white sheets over them?

Explore our resources

Complete your lesson with teaching resources on life cycles from Tigtag.

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