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Halloween is a fun holiday for kids. Many of the traditions we have were passed down from centuries ago. Some Halloween traditions have even died out since they were at their peak. There are probably plenty of things about Halloween that you didn’t know.
If you’re interested in learning some fun Halloween facts to get you in a spooky mood, keep reading!
1. Halloween is over 2000 years old
Halloween was originally a Celtic festival. Samhain means “summer’s end” and it happened around the first of November. Ireland, the United Kingdom, and France all celebrated the end of the harvest.
They would help spirits cross over into the other world and scare away ghosts by wearing costumes and lighting bonfires over which they would perform sacrifices.
Interestingly, the word Samhainophobia means a fear of Halloween.
2. Jack-o’-lanterns also came from Ireland
Not only did the holiday originate in Ireland, but our decorations did, too. The legend says that the devil was tricked by a man named Stingy Jack, and wasn’t allowed to go to heaven or hell. Instead, he roamed the earth with his lantern and was known from then on as Jack of the Lantern.
Because it was an Irish holiday and an Irish legend, these lanterns used to be carved out of vegetables commonly grown in Ireland, like potatoes, turnips, and beets. Now, of course, we carve them out of pumpkins.
3. Illinois grows more pumpkins than any other state
Illinois grows over 500 million pounds of pumpkins every year. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, there are more than 15,000 acres of gourd farms. If you like pumpkins, you may want to consider a trip in the fall.
4. There’s a pumpkin patch in Hawaii
Illinois may make the most pumpkins, but Hawaii has some, too. You can pick your own pumpkins at Waimanalo Country Farms on the island of Oahu. Florida has the Pickin’ Patch where you can also pick your own pumpkins. Then it turns back into a watermelon patch until the next year.
5. Trick or treating has been around since the medieval times
In Scotland and Ireland, it used to be called “guising.” Kids would dress up and perform poems, songs, or tricks for food or money. Today, our kids dress up and ask for candy, but don’t be surprised if someone asks them to perform a trick in exchange. After all, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
6. Ladies used to try to find husbands on Halloween
Another interesting Halloween tradition involves performing rituals said to bring you a romantic relationship. There were several different ways in which a woman’s husband would be revealed to her.
She could throw apple peels over her shoulder to reveal her husband’s initials. She could win at bobbing for apples to bring on a marriage proposal. She could also stand in front of a mirror with a candle to reveal her husband’s face.
7. Ireland has traditional Halloween bread
They call it barmbrack or brack. It’s a loaf of sweet bread with raisins and contains a small ring or a toy. Whoever finds the prize will have good fortune.
8. Michael Myers wore a William Shatner mask in ‘Halloween’
When production designer Tommy Lee Wallace showed up on set with two different masks, the William Shatner mask won. The other was a clown, and apparently it was “kind of creepy,” but after he put on Captain Kirk, the rest was history.
They cut out bigger eye holes and spray painted it white for a scarier effect, but it was just what they were looking for to have the desired effect.
9. Trick or treating almost stopped during World War II
During World War II, they rationed sugar, meaning that candy manufacturing all but stopped. But the candy companies discovered that they could launch advertising around the holiday to capitalize on what was already happening anyway.
After rationing ended, Halloween blew up and became a major holiday for sweet manufacturers. Today, Halloween is the second largest commercial holiday in the United States, after Christmas.
People spend $9 billion a year on candy and costumes. The average American spends almost $90.
10. Disney’s ‘Hocus Pocus’ could have been very different
The movie was almost named ‘Disney’s Halloween House’ and the script was darker and scarier. The role of Max Dennison was offered to Leonardo DiCaprio, but he chose instead to do ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.’
11. Candy corn used to be called ‘chicken feed’
Boxes of candy corn were originally sold by Goelitz Confectionery Company with a rooster on the front. They were trying to appeal to the agricultural industry in America and the sugary candy has changed very little since the original chicken feed in 1880.
12. Monster Mash was a huge hit – not at Halloween
Even though he released the single right before Halloween in 1962, Bobby Pickett’s Monster Mash recharted again in August of 1973. It’s still a popular Halloween tune that many like to listen to.
13. The most popular Halloween candy is Skittles
Eleven years of sales has Skittles outranking Reese’s, Snickers, and M&Ms. Candy corn also tops many lists of the most popular Halloween candies, but it seems to be a love it or hate it sort of thing.
14. The most popular costumes for kids are superheroes and princesses
Characters from top summer movies are also popular costumes for kids while adults tend to dress as witches and dogs dress like pumpkins.
15. Some people have pumpkin carving contests
The record for fastest pumpkin carving is held by Stephen Clarke. He carved an entire jack-o’-lantern, complete with ears, mouth, nose, and eyes in 16.47 seconds.
The city of Keene, New Hampshire once lit 30,581 pumpkins all at the same time and broke the city record for most lit jack-o’-lanterns at one time.
16. New York City has the largest Halloween parade in the United States
More than 2 million people come out every year to watch this parade, containing thousands of participants. It started when Greenwich Village resident Ralph Lee took a walk around his neighborhood to entertain his friends and their children.
The local theatre heard what he was doing and turned it into an even bigger and more theatrical event. It has grown every year since.
17. Harry Houdini died on Halloween
On Halloween in 1926, this famous illusionist suffered a ruptured appendix and died. He contracted peritonitis, a complication caused by his ruptured appendix, but there were several conflicting reports surrounding his death, which created an air of mystery at the time.
18. People 16 years old and older cannot trick or treat in Bathurst, Canada
The city of Bathurst, Canada banned people over the age of 16 from trick or treating and wearing masks. If they’re caught, they’ll be fined $200. Anyone out after the 8pm curfew will also get in trouble.
19. It’s popular to suspend black cat adoptions on Halloween
Some shelters feared that black cat adoptions were increasing around the time of Halloween because they were being used as sacrifices for satanic cults. They suspend black cat adoptions around Halloween every year to keep the cats safe.
Other shelters use Halloween to promote black cat adoptions in order to bring in more revenue, because they know they can get black cats adopted much easier at that time of year than any other.
However, these shelters typically increase interviews or tighten their interview process to weed out those who may be adopting a black cat for the wrong reasons.
20. Witches weren’t always bad
The term “witch” comes from the Old English word wicce, which means wise woman. There was a time when wiccan people were very highly respected. Witches had two large meetings a year, one of which occurred on Halloween.
21. Owls used to represent Halloween
Rather than ghosts, goblins, witches, and vampires, people in medieval Europe thought owls were witches. Hearing an owl hoot was a sign that someone would die very soon. Creepy? Absolutely. Will you ever think of an owl without remembering this now? Nope.
22. Halloween is short for Hallow’s Eve
I’m sure you’ve heard of All Hallow’s Eve. But do you know what it is or where it comes from? When the Christian church was trying to convert pagans to Christianity, it decided to assimilate pagan holidays that fell at this time of year.
All Hallow’s Day, also called Hallowmas, was a holy day falling on November 1. All Saints’ Day also fell on November 1, while All Souls’ Day fell on November 2. Halloween, or Hallow’s Eve (the night before All Hallow’s Day) on October 31 was used to reach the pagan community for Christ.
23. Scarecrows are a meaningful symbol
Farmers frequently use scarecrows to, well, scare crows. These straw men are placed in the middle of a field of crops to scare away crows and other birds that may eat the crop before it’s harvested and sold.
We often see scarecrows at Halloween, and they can be just as creepy as any other Halloween decoration. But they’re meant to symbolize the agricultural roots of this particular holiday that go back to ancient times.
24. Black and orange mean something, too
Black and orange are the most common Halloween colors, and we generally accept this as true. However, there’s a deeper meaning behind why. Orange symbolizes endurance and strength. Similar colors like gold and brown also have this same meaning. All of these colors represent the harvest of autumn.
Black is generally associated with death, which reminds us of the original festivals that took place around this time of year to celebrate the death, the dead, and those who still pass between worlds.
25. Day of the Dead is one such celebration
Rather than celebrating Halloween, Mexico celebrates the Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos. This is a two-day festival on November 1 and 2, remembering the dead and communicating with them through ritual.
They dress up like skeletons, ghouls, and other dead figures and parade through the streets, decorating with skulls and other colorful garb.
These are just a few fun facts that you may not have known about Halloween and this spooky time of year. There are lots of reasons to celebrate, even if you don’t dress up or go trick or treating!