As the leaves start to change and a chill steals into the air, there’s a holiday that creeps up as quickly and quietly as a ghost … Halloween! Popular as it is, it’s still got a bunch of secrets up its sleeve. Here are 13 things you probably didn’t know about All Hallow’s Eve.
1. Halloween is from Ireland
Halloween is believed to have first been a Celtic festival called Samhain, which celebrated the end of the harvest season. On October 31st, Celts believed the boundaries between the living and the dead blurred, and that the dead came back to life to wreak havoc. The whole point of wearing costumes and masks was to scare the dead.
2. It’s got rules
Just a few interesting Halloween laws:
● In Alabama, it’s illegal to dress-up as a priest
● In some cities, kids over 12 are banned from trick-or- treating. Teenagers who try face up to a $1,000 fine
● Speaking of $1,000 fines, you can get one for using Silly String on Halloween in Hollywood
3. The first jack-o’- lanterns were actually made from turnips
An old Irish tale says a man named Stingy Jack tricked the Devil once, getting the Devil to swear to never claim Jack’s soul. Far from angelic, Jack was denied entrance to heaven when he died, but because the Devil couldn’t claim his soul, he was forced to roam the earth. He had nothing but a lump of burning coal with him, which he put in a turnip to make a lantern. Thus Stingy Jack turned into “Jack of the Lantern,” or “Jack o’ Lantern.”
4. Some people are deathly afraid of it
Thousands suffer from samhainophobia – an irrational fear of Halloween.
5. Seeing a spider is actually good luck
According to legend, those who see spiders on Halloween are actually seeing the spirits of loved ones watching over them.
6. Halloween is a colossal commercial holiday
After Christmas, Halloween is the highest-grossing holiday. Spending in 2015 was close to $7 billion, meaning the average American spent ~$74 on candy, costumes, decorations, and more. A large portion is for Halloween costumes for pets!
7. Halloween 2020 will be ‘specially spooky
It’s quite rare for a full moon to fall on actual Halloween night. Interestingly, that’s exactly what’s predicted for October 31st, 2020.
8. Some interesting celebrities have connections to Halloween
Dan Rather, Vanilla Ice, and Will Smith’s daughter Willow were all born on October 31st. Harry Houdini also died that day, which begs the question: who did he reincarnate into?
9. It’s culturally distinct
Different cultures celebrate things differently. For example, in the UK it isn’t black cats that are believed to bring bad luck – it’s white ones.
10. Traditional Halloween food wasn’t candy
Barmbrack, a hearty Irish bread with sultanas and raisins, was traditionally eaten on Halloween in Ireland. Certain objects were baked into it, each with a prediction if it showed up in your piece. If you got the pea, you wouldn't be married that year; if the stick, you'd have an unhappy marriage or fight constantly; if the rag, you'd be poor; if the coin, you'd be rich; and if the ring, you’d get married that year.
11. Americans each eat roughly 3.5 pounds of candy on Halloween
That’s the weight of a small chihuahua! Children consume approximately 7,000 calories on Halloween, which is equivalent to 66 bananas. All told, Americans spend ~$2 billion on candy each year, equaling 600 million pounds, or 6 Titanics full of the sweet stuff.
12. In a few towns in the U.S., Halloween was originally “Cabbage Night”
This came from another fortune-telling game -- this time Scottish -- where girls used cabbage stumps to predict things about their future husbands. Teens in Framingham, Massachusetts, skipped the game and started just throwing cabbages at neighbors’ properties. Other parts of the country had similar traditions: country boys loved throwing cabbage, corn and other rotten vegetables at neighbors.
13. If you want to see a real witch on Halloween, you’re supposed to do this
Want to see a witch at midnight? You’ve got to wear your clothes inside out and walk backward.
“I was born on the night of Samhain, when the barrier between the worlds is whisper- thin and when magic, old magic, sings its heady and sweet song to anyone who cares to hear it.”
― Carolyn MacCullough, Once a Witch