Friday, October 30, 2009

32 Bizarre and Fascinating Facts About Halloween

Halloween is one of the most exciting and captivating holidays celebrated by both the young and old. Every year we break out the costumes and the spooky decorations in October. We carve our pumpkins, we buy the candy. But how much about this frighteningly fun holiday do we really know? There are many fun and interesting facts about Halloween that many people are not aware of.

Enjoy these terrifyingly true trivia facts and impress your friends with your extensive Halloween knowledge. We cover everything interesting about Halloween from history facts to Halloween around the world. Keep reading for 32 of the most bizarre Halloween facts we could find!

Halloween History

1. The history of Halloween began in ancient times with the Celts living on the British Isles. The Pagan calendar had October 31st as the last day of the year called Samhain. Celtic priests honored their god of death, known as Samhain, on the night of the 31st. The Celtic people believed that the spirits of the dead rose on that night and so they wore costumes to scare them away.

2. After the rise of Christianity the first day of November was known as All Saints Day which was originally called All Hallows Day. That made October 31st All Hallows Eve. That is how Halloween got its name.

3. It is believed that the Irish began the tradition of Trick or Treating. In preparation for All Hallow’s Eve, Irish townsfolk would visit neighbors and ask for contributions of food for a feast in the town.

4. After the Roman Empire gained control of the British Isles, Samhain also became a harvest festival honoring Pomona, the goddess of fruit trees. Bobbing for apples is thought to have originated from this harvest festival.

5. Halloween was brought to North America by immigrants from Europe who would celebrate the harvest around a bonfire, share ghost stories, sing, dance, and tell fortunes. By the second half of the nineteenth century there was in influx of immigrants (particularly the millions of Irish fleeing the potato famine in Ireland) who helped popularize Halloween and make it the holiday it is today.

6. In the United States the first citywide Halloween celebration was held in Anoka, Minnesota in 1921. It is believed that the reason the townspeople decided to put on this celebration was to divert its youngsters from committing Halloween pranks. Anoka is now known as “The Halloween Capital of the World”.

7. The earliest known use of the words “Trick or Treat” did not occur until 1934, when a Portland, Oregon newspaper ran an article about how Halloween pranks kept local police officers on their toes. There would be sporadic instances of the phrase “Trick or Treat” used in the media during the 1930s. But the practice we see today, children dressed in costume, going house to house saying “Trick or Treat” did not really come about until the mid 1940s.

The Scoop on Pumpkins

8. A pumpkin is a berry in the cucurbitaceae family, which also includes melons, squash, cucumbers, and gourds. All of these plants are native to the Americas.

9. Pumpkins are 90% water and generally weigh between 15 and 30lbs. They are rich in vitamin A, beta-carotene, and potassium and their seeds provide iron and protein. Pumpkins also come in white, blue, grey, and green. Great for carving unique jack o

10. Jack o lanterns originated in Ireland where people placed candles in hollowed-out turnips to keep away spirits and ghosts. When they immigrated here they found that turnips were not as plentiful so they used pumpkins instead. Today, 99% of America’s pumpkins are used for Jack-o-lanterns.

11. Pumpkins originated in Central America. When Europeans arrived in the New World, they found that this plentiful food was often used in cooking by Native Americans. They took pumpkin seeds back to Europe where they quickly became very popular.

12. Growing giant pumpkins is a big time hobby with big time rewards. Top prize money for the biggest giant pumpkin can be as much as $25,000 at fall festivals. A new Guinness world record was set October 1, 2005 for the biggest pumpkin. This giant pumpkin weighed 1,469 lbs. and was grown by Larry Checkon of North Cambria, PA. Checkon’s pumpkin outweighed the 2004 winner by about 23 lbs.

Halloween Around the World

13. In Mexico, Halloween is called “Dia De Los Muertos” which means “Day of the Dead” in English. It is a joyous and happy holiday, a time to remember friends and family who have died. Mexicans have a 3 day celebration beginning on October 31st and ending on All Soul’s Day.

14. In Austria, some people will leave bread, water and a lighted lamp on the table before going to bed on Halloween night. The reason for this is because it was once believed such items would welcome the dead souls back to earth on a night which for the Austrians was considered to be full of strong cosmic energies.

15. In Czechoslovakia, chairs are placed by the fireside on Halloween night. There is one chair for each living family member and one for each family member’s spirit.

16. The Halloween celebration in Hong Kong is known as “Yue Lan” which translates to Festival of the Hungry Ghosts. This is a time when it is believed that spirits roam the world for twenty-four hours. Some people burn pictures of fruit or money at this time, believing these images would reach the spirit world and bring comfort to the ghosts.

17. In Belgium, on Halloween night the custom is to light candles in memory of dead loved ones.

18. In Germany, the people put away their knives on Halloween night. The reason for this is because they do not want to risk harm to the returning spirits.

19. In China, the Halloween festival is known as Teng Chieh. Food and water are placed in front of photographs of family members who have departed while bonfires and lanterns are lit in order to light the paths of the spirits as they travel the earth on Halloween night.

Modern Day Halloween Facts

20. Halloween is the 2nd most commercially successful holiday, with Christmas being the first. Americans spend an estimated 6.9 billion dollars during Halloween on candies, costumes, decorations and parties.

21. Halloween is not just for children, adults love Halloween too! It is estimated that one-third of all adults wear costumes and join in the festivities.

22. Of all the candy sold annually in America, 1/4 of it is sold during Halloween time. The number one candy choice for Halloween is Snickers. Hershey’s Milk Chocolate, Tootsie Rolls, and Nestle Crunch are the next most popular candies. Chocolate Candy bars are by far the number one choice for most households to give away to their trick or treaters.

23. 65% of people in North America decorate their homes and offices for Halloween, second only to Christmas. Pumpkins are the most common Halloween decorations followed by skeletons, scarecrows, and bats.

24. In modern times, Halloween is most popular in the United States and Canada. Both countries celebrate the same way with costumes, parties, and trick or treating. The popularity of this holiday in both countries has increased year after year.

Miscellaneous Trivia

25. Samhainophobia is an intense, persistent, and abnormal fear of Halloween. This time of year may also stir up other phobias such as the fear of: cats (ailurophobia), witches (wiccaphobia), ghosts (phasmophobia), spiders (arachnophobia), the dark (nyctophobia), and cemetaries (coimetrophobia).

26. The colors black and orange are widely associated with Halloween. Orange represents the Fall harvest and black represents death.

27. Black cats were once believed to work for witches by protecting their powers. It is often thought that it is bad luck if a black cat crosses your path.

28. The next full moon on Halloween night will be on October 31st, 2020. The last one was in 2001. Before that, there was a full moon on Halloween night in 1955.

29. The Salem Witch trials of 1692 are known for burning so-called witches at the stake. Actually, not one witch died by burning; most were put to death by hanging and several died in prison of natural causes.

30. Harry Houdini died on Halloween night in 1926 after collapsing onstage at a show in Detroit, Michigan.

31. “Trick or Treat for UNICEF” started in 1950 in Philadelphia, PA. A group of young trick-or-treaters, accompanied by their pastor, collected $17 for children in need. The money was sent to UNICEF and an American tradition was born.

32. Worldwide, bats are vital natural enemies of night-flying insects. Vampire bats really do exist, but they’re not from Transylvania. They live in Central and South America and feed on the blood of cattle, horses and birds.


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