13 Surprising Facts About Halloween

It’s that time of year again, folks. The holidays are officially right around the corner and a buzz is starting to stir in our centers for all the excitement that’s in store. What could be a better and more thrilling trio than spooky Hallow’s Eve, wholesome Thanksgiving, and the glittery wonder of Christmas? However, as lovable and traditional as this trio is for many of us, the origin stories are varied and hard to pin down. Halloween is certainly an odd holiday if you award it a second of extra thought: dressing up in a plethora of disguises to knock on doors with the threat of a trick and the hope of a treat? Sounds like the brainchild of a con artist trying to trick his neighbors out of their candy stash. In reality, Halloween has been around for centuries and it’s pitted into the folds of many different cultures.  Here are 13 facts you may not have known about the ghoulish end to the harvest season:

  1. Halloween is thought to originate in Ireland where the Celts believe that the 31st of October marks the day that the veil between this realm and the realm of spirits is at its thinnest.
  1. Dressing in costumes began as a way to confuse evil spirits who passed through that veil into our world.
  1. Trick-or-Treating has been a practice that has been around for centuries, although it has evolved over time. It began during times of famine, when supplies were low and people would go door-to-door begging for food in exchange for prayers.
  1. It is said that to spot a spider on Halloween means that a loved one that has passed on is watching over you.
  1. The tradition of Jack O’Lanterns comes from the old belief in a man named “Stingy Jack” who angered the Devil by tricking him a number of times. It is said that Jack was able to evade Hell by slyly trapping the Devil in the form of a coin and then again in a fruit by using the image of a cross. After Jack died, God refused to let him into Heaven and the Devil had agreed not to take him into Hell. Stingy Jack was, therefore, stuck for all eternity roaming between both worlds. In order to light his way, he carved a turnip and placed a piece of coal inside. Once Irish and Scottish immigrants came to America, turnips were scarce and they began to use pumpkins, instead. The belief is that a Jack O’Lantern will help to keep Stingy Jack from off your doorstep.
  1. Black cats are a hugely popular symbol relating to Halloween for a number of reasons. Centuries ago, they were believed to be a witch’s familiar, that they brought bad luck, and they were often sacrificed on Halloween night for pagan rituals. It’s hard to believe, but there are many animal shelters in the United States, today, that refuse to let people adopt black cats around Halloween, for fear that they will be sacrificed.
  1. Owls are another major symbol of Halloween because they, too, were considered to be connected to witches. For many years, it was believed that if you heard an owl late at night – it meant that someone you knew was about to die.
  1. Samhainophobia is the fear of Halloween.
  1. The city of Boston, Massachusetts hold the record for “most Jack O’Lanterns lit up at once with a whopping 30,128!
  1. During World War II when there was a sugar ration in effect, the tradition of trick-or-treating fell by the wayside, before being revived in the 1950’s.
  1. Harry Houdini, the most famous magician and escape artist in history, died on Halloween from an appendicitis.
  1. The largest pumpkin on record was grown in 1993 and reached an alarming 836 lbs.!
  1. The next full moon on Halloween won’t occur until 2020.

 

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