The Real Reason People Bob For Apples Around Halloween

There's something special about participating in holiday traditions that have been enjoyed by many for decades, sometimes even centuries. And when it comes to Halloween, the list of fun and even historic traditions is endless. 

Halloween — which literally means "hallowed evening," per the BBC — was first observed 2,000 years ago and was called Samhain, a three-day Celtic pagan festival in which ghosts and spirits were said to visit from the afterlife and sacrifices were even burned in bonfires (via Time). Indeed, based on some of the spooky origins of Halloween, it's no secret that it is still, to this day, the most frightening holiday of the year, from scary costumes and horror films to haunted houses and spooky decorations. That being said, however, not every Halloween tradition is a scary one, and in fact, there's one in particular with a pretty adorable origin story.

If you're the type of person who loves Halloween but hates scary things, you're definitely going to want to participate in this fun, totally not spooky Halloween activity.

Women's future relationships were judged on their apple bobbing skills

There are certain hallmarks of Halloween that are impossible not to think of when the frighteningly fun holiday comes around each year. But for some reason, bobbing for apples isn't one of them, despite its popularity. Not only is the activity super fun during fall time, but it also has a pretty endearing origin that you're going to love.

According to, this autumnal tradition — which had been enjoyed for hundreds of years — is actually deeply rooted in courtship. Indeed, bobbing for apples began as a British ritual of courting, in which apples represented potential male partners, and women would attempt to bob for — or bite — an apple that represented the man she was interested in. The story has it that if it took the young lady only one try to successfully bite into the apple, she and her mate were fated to be together. If it took two tries, their love would eventually fade away. But if the bobbing took three or more tries, the relationship would be doomed.

Another way in which the Brits would play the game was quite a bit more competitive, with women competing against other women for the chance at love. These rules were quite simple; the first person to bite into an apple would be destined to marry first.

Why apple bobbing is a Halloween tradition

While the tradition certainly sounds fun, you might be wondering why it's celebrated during fall and around Halloween-time. Well, according to Southern Kitchen, apples used to be quite difficult to find and weren't native to many areas in America. That's why when European settlers came to America, they would often bring apple seeds with them and would teach Americans of their unique fall traditions. As a result, apples — and subsequently, bobbing for apples — became synonymous with fall.

Furthermore, apple bobbing was also tied to Halloween thanks to Samhain, the Celtic pagan festival, as it celebrated the end of the harvest season and the start of winter. The event became such a staple of Halloween that many even called October 31 "Snap-Apple Night" or "Snotching Night" (via Mental Floss).

While the tradition certainly sounds fun, we're glad that the tradition of linking our apple bobbing abilities to our love lives has officially come to an end.