Well it’s that time of the year again, everyone! The leaves are changing, the air is crisp, and apple cider doughnuts are being served in the dining halls again. Also, Halloween is just three days away! I used to absolutely love Halloween as a kid: the pumpkin carving, the Halloween parties, searching for a costume that was not too outdated but not too mainstream, and of course, the seemingly endless amount of candy I received from my neighbors. Since I’m in college and don’t go Trick-or-Treating anymore, I thought I’d celebrate the holiday by telling some fun facts about the spooky and enjoyable holiday that falls on October 31st:
1. Halloween is the second-most commercial American holiday of the year.
While Christmas is the first. Every year, the candy industry in the United States makes an average of $2 billion because of Halloween– that’s equal to 90 million pounds of chocolate. Not only that, but Americans spend around $6 billion each year on Halloween items, such as costumes, decorations, and candy.
2. The symbols associated with Halloween aren’t random.
Spiders, black cats, and bats are the symbols of Halloween because of their history and ties to Wiccans. The three symbols were believed to be familiar symbols used by the witches from the Middle Ages, and are typically associated with bad luck. Bats in particular are associated with Halloween because of the ancient Samhain ritual of making a bonfire– this was thought to drive away insects but attract bats.
3. The concept of wearing costumes on Halloween comes from the Celts.
The Celts thought Samhain was the period of time when the wall between our world and the paranormal world was weak, letting the spirits come through. As a response to this, it was common for Celts to wear masks and costumes to ward off or confuse any evil spirits.
4. Halloween has other names as well.
The other names used for Halloween are:
All Hallows Eve: the traditional name for Halloween, marks the evening before the Christian holy day of All Hallows’ Day
Samhain: a Gaelic festival that marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter
All Hallowtide: encompasses the Western Christian observances of All Saints’ Eve, All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day. Lasts from October 31-November 2.
The Day of the Dead: Called Dia de Los Muertos in Mexico. A day in which cultures honor the deceased members of the community. The Day of the Dead is deeply tied to Mexican culture, heritage, and indigenous religions. It’s not exactly connected to Halloween, but falls around the same time of year.
5. Jack O’Lanterns used to be made out of turnips, potatoes, and beets.
You can check out the whole story of the origin of Jack O’Lanterns here but for now just know that there was an old Irish folktale about a guy named Stingy Jack who messed around with the Devil. When Jack died, he wasn’t allowed into Heaven or Hell, so he was sent to roam the Earth. To ward him off, Irish people carved scary faces into turnips, potatoes, and beets to scare him away.
6. Some animal shelters won’t let people adopt black cats around Halloween time, in fear they’ll be sacrificed.
It’s not certain that black cats are actually sacrificed on Halloween, but many shelters are playing it safe. In the past few years, however, the superstitions surrounding black cats have started to die down and more shelters are getting rid of the rule.
7. The colors most associated with Halloween are black and orange.
This seems obvious. But do you know why they’re these colors? Orange, along with brown and gold, symbolizes strength and endurance. Black symbolizes death and darkness and serves to remind everyone that Halloween marks the time period between life and death.
8. Salem, Massachusetts, and Anoka, Minnesota are the self-proclaimed Halloween capitals of the world.
I’ve been to Salem several times for Halloween and I can confirm that it’s an amazing place to be for the holiday! The city goes all out; everywhere and everyone is celebrating by wearing costumes, giving out candy, and having multiple events for the public to attend. I’ve never visited Anoka, but based on various websites, they also put a lot of enthusiasm into Halloween decorating.
9. New York City has The Village Halloween parade, which is the largest Halloween parade in the U.S. It has over 50,000 participants and more than two million spectators.
According to the event’s official website, the Halloween Parade was started by the Greenwich Village mask maker Ralph Lee in 1974. It started out as a walk from house to house in his neighborhood. Two years later, The Theater for the New City made the event larger and part of their City in the Streets program. Today, it’s “a powerful event, for while it is happening, it animates all the senses—sight, sound, smell, taste, color and movement.”
10. Some people wear their clothes inside out on Halloween.
Tradition states that if a person wears their clothes inside out and walks backwards on Halloween, they’ll see a witch at midnight. Try it for yourself this year if you’re up for (possibly) coming face to face with a witch!
On Rotten Tomatoes, The Nightmare Before Christmas was given a score of 94% fresh ratings. Halloween was only one point behind. The other two movies weren’t given generous critic reviews, but received fairly positive feedback from audiences.
I hope you enjoyed reading these Halloween facts and find yourself eating a lot (but not too much) of candy this year! Have a very Happy Halloween!
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