Every October, people all over the world celebrate the ancient holiday of Halloween, also known as All Hallows’ Eve. Although today it features costumes, trick-or-treating, haunted houses and ghost stories, it wasn’t always that way. Here are 20 things most people don’t know about our spooky holiday.
1. Halloween is more Irish than Leprechauns.
Believe it or not, Halloween is more Irish than St. Patrick’s Day. Whereas St. Patrick’s Day was invented in America by Irish-Americans, Halloween’s origins likely evolved from the ancient Celtic celebration of Samhain, which in very ancient days was a ritualistic festival that honored the pagan gods of the harvest.
2. You’re spelling it wrong.
Halloween has been called a number of things throughout the years including Allhalloween, All Hallows’ Eve, All Saints’ Eve, Lamswool, Samhain, Summer’s End, and Snap-Apple Night. The modern name of “Halloween” derives from “Hallowe ‘en”, a contraction of the phrase All Hallows’ Eve. So, the correct spelling of Halloween is actually Hallowe’en.
3. The first jack-o-lanterns weren’t pumpkins.
Pumpkin carving comes from a method used by the Celts to ward off evil spirits during Samhain. They would hollow out turnips, carve faces in them, and then put candles inside to keep the spirits at bay.
4. Samhainophobia is a thing.
Samhainophobia is known as the irrational fear of Halloween.
5. Halloween makes a lot of money.
Halloween is the second highest grossing commercial holiday after Christmas. Approximately 8 billion dollars is spent annually, with over 2.6 billion dollars being spent on costumes alone (with plenty more being shelled out for trick-or-treat candy and decorations). 330 million dollars will be spent on pet costumes alone.
6. You’re giving your trick-or-treaters the wrong treats.
More candy is sold on October 28th than any other day of the year. The number one candy of choice is Snickers, followed by Reese’s, Kit-Kat’s and M&M’s.
7. Trick-or-treating isn’t even a century old yet.
The first incidence of this phrase first appeared in a Chicago newspaper in 1927.
8. Make sure to thank the baby boomers.
The movement to start trick-or-treating began in the late 20s and early 30s. It wasn’t until post-World War II, and the end of sugar rationing, that it really took off as the phenomenon that it is today. As a result, baby boomers are the first generation to have trick-or-treated both as kids and as grandparents.
9. It’s okay to be a bit wicked on Halloween.
While pop culture favorites come and go, the witch is annually the most popular costume.
10. Who’s going to win the election? Ask the Halloween stores.
The retail store Spirit Halloween claims they can determine the outcome of a presidential election based on the sales of each candidate’s mask. In the past four elections (which is as long as the retailer has been in business) they have been keeping track, and their sales have accurately predicted the winner.
11. What’s on Your Playlist?
According to Billboard, the most played Halloween-themed songs are Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” followed by “Monster Mash” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett & the Crypt-Kickers and “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker, Jr.
12. Halloween is the most dangerous holiday for pedestrians.
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, on average almost 30 pedestrians are annually killed each Halloween. That’s almost triple the number of pedestrian fatalities that happen on the average day in the US.
13. Don’t forget to lock your car.
Halloween is the busiest holiday for car thieves according to vehicle theft data compiled by the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
14. Don’t forget to wish these famous people a happy birthday.
Willow Smith, Dan Rather, Michael Collins, Piper Perabo, Christopher Columbus, Rob Schneider, Peter Jackson, Nick Saban and Vanilla Ice were all born on October 31st.
15. Halloween didn’t end so well for everyone.
Harry Houdini died on Halloween.
16. Pumpkins can grow to be pretty big.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world’s heaviest pumpkin is from Switzerland and weighs 2,323 lbs.
17. Don’t kill spiders on Halloween.
According to legend, if you see a spider on Halloween, it’s actually the spirit of a loved one watching over you.
18. If you’re wanting an extra hour of sleep, you’ll have to wait.
According to the book, Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Savings Time, the candy industry played a major role in changing the length of Daylight Savings. Candy makers were among the supporters of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which shifted the end of Daylight Savings Time from the last Sunday in October to the fist Sunday in November, thus giving trick-or-treaters an extra hour of daylight to the obtain their treats.
19. The U.S Defense Department has your back.
Yes, the U.S. Defense Department has a zombie apocalypse plan. The document is called “CONOP 8888” and known internally as “Counter-Zombie Dominance.”