The leaves are changing colors and there is a chill in the air. Fall is here and Halloween is just around the corner. As millions of children and adults across the country prepare to dress up, host parties, and trick-or-treat through the neighborhood, the facts about Halloween get lost in the pageantry of the day. Do you know all there is to know about Halloween? Let’s explore some of the most interesting facts about Halloween in the following paragraphs.
1. It’s Meant to Mock the Devil
Early Christians adapted Halloween from the celebration of All Hallows’ Eve. These early Christians held a fierce belief in the existence of the devil. Rather than run and hide in fear, these people chose to fight back against the devil by attack his weakness. Satan was one of God’s greatest angels, but his personal pride led to his downfall. As such, the devil was depicted with horns and a tail to mock him, believing it would cause him to flee.
2. The Story of Jack of the Lantern
According to an Irish legend, the devil once came for the soul of a thief named Jack. Ever the cunning thief, Jack tricked the devil into agreeing to never take his soul. After living a full life, Jack was denied entrance to heaven for his sins. When he arrived in Hell, the devil kept his promise and denied Jack entrance. The devil is said to have tossed Jack an ember that he placed into a hollowed turnip, which he used as a lantern. In the process, he became Jack of the Lantern. We now light the night (and the way) on Halloween with Jack-O-Lanterns.
3. Costumes Served a Purpose Once
Today, when Halloween rolls around we all dress up in different costumes. Witches, ninja turtles, and superheroes walk the streets of cities and towns in search of candy. Originally, those costumes served the purpose of disguising people. Ancient Celts celebrated the festival of Samhain. The dead were believed to walk the Earth during Samhain. Celts donned costumes to blend in with the evil spirits, or at least avoid recognition.
4. Salem is the Halloween Capital of the World
Salem is America’s most infamous town when it comes to Halloween, witchcraft, and the dark side of human beliefs. The town, which considers itself the Halloween Capital of the World, is also the sight of infamous witch trials. Salem not only celebrates Halloween the day of, but caters to those of the Wiccan religion on a 365-day basis. The culture of witchcraft has been embraced and creates an atmosphere of spooky delight all year.
5. Fear of Black Cats
Black cats are fixture of Halloween celebrations and decorations. These animals are represented in children’s costumes and featured on cards, but why are they associated with Halloween? During the Middle Ages, people believed that witches would turn into black cats to avoid detection as a witch.
6. Bobbing for Marriage
A popular game at many Halloween festivals or parties is bobbing for apples. With hands tied behind our backs, we stuff our faces into a bucket of water and try to capture an apple in our mouth. The tradition actually dates back the Roman harvest festival honoring Pomona. Unmarried youth would bob for apples floating in water (or hanging from strings). The first one to successfully bite into an apple would be the next individual allowed to marry.
7. Michael Myers is William Shatner
The film Halloween, produced in 1978, was filmed in just 21 days using a shoe-string budget. The iconic mask worn by Michael Myers during filming was actually a replica of William Shatner’s face from Star Trek. The costume designers painted the mask white, teased up the hair, and altered the eye holes to create the chilling, blank look.
8. A Commercial Giant
Only Christmas is more successful on a commercial level than Halloween in the US. Candy companies, for example, rake in millions of dollars in sales. Reese’s candies from Hershey Company were the number one treats in 2012 with sales that totaled $510 million. M&M’s came in second with $500.82 million sales.
9. Americans are Generous on Halloween
The concept of trick-or-treating is often associated with the practice of begging for supplies that occurred during Samhain festivals in Ireland. Orphans and widows would beg for food and other supplies before winter set in. Today, 74% of American households pass out candy to trick-or-treaters. Roughly 72% of those homes pass out more than two pieces of candy.
10. A Greeting Card Holiday
Most people associated birthdays, Christmas, Father’s Day, and Mother’s Day as the biggest days of the year for greeting cards. Halloween is, in fact, the eighth-largest greeting card holiday with nearly 30 million cards sent out each year.
As you set out through the neighborhood at the end of the month to trick-or-treat, or get dressed up for a party, keep these interesting facts in mind. Halloween is about more than just candy, and now you know why! Did you know about these facts? Do you know any other little-known facts?