Oh, Halloween. That glorious time of year when we order a $50 taco costume from Party City, only to have our kid say that she actually wants to be Moana. A hint of freshness in our hair and suddenly we all pretend we’re farmers and we’re rolling on hay bales, and decide to eat fun-sized Twix like they were prescribed by a doctor. And of course, it’s that very special season when a quick stop at the pharmacy for a few necessities also means listening to your child activate a screaming skeleton every few seconds. Halloween (or All Hallows’ Eve, as it was originally called) has a pretty crazy history, and there are all sorts of weird and interesting Halloween facts to learn and share.
Here, we’ve rounded up 23 Halloween facts about our favorite spooky traditions, beloved horror movies, and the candy we slap in our faces on October 31st. I mean, when you think about it, Halloween is definitely one of our weirdest holidays and so it’s perhaps not entirely surprising that there are a lot of neat little facts about Halloween. You can totally bust these fun facts at the block party, wildly gesticulating while wearing an inflatable cactus costume, or handing them out (along with lots of candy) on Halloween night.
The mask worn by
HalloweenMichael Meyers is actually a mask of Captain Kirk.
Weird, yes. But totally true. During the original filming of
Halloween, a production designer picked up a Captain Kirk mask for a few bucks, painted it white, and it became the face of everyone’s favorite horror icon. To make matters even stranger, William Shatner himself apparently once went as Michael Meyers for Halloween. Which means Shatner was wearing a… Shatner mask. This is quite possibly my favorite of all Halloween facts.
Scottish girls expected a lot from their sheets for Halloween
According to Scottish folklore, Scottish girls used to hang wet sheets in front of the fire, in the hope that the face of their future husband would appear to them.
Trick-or-treating has been around for hundreds of years
The tradition of wandering the streets and asking alms from strangers dates back to the Middle Ages. At the time, it was known as “mumming,” and people would dress up as demons and ghosts, then go knock on doors and perform a song or dance in exchange for food or drink. (No word on whether or not the song contained the words, “If you don’t, I don’t care, I’ll pull your underwear down.”)
‘Monster Mash’ has already been banned in the UK
It’s true. Back in 1962, the UK felt the lyrics to this goofy Halloween anthem were a little “too morbid”. I guess lines like: “From my lab in the castle to the east, to the master bedroom where the vampires feast” would have been a little off at the time.
Leo was almost in
Leonardo DiCaprio, that is. A little hard to imagine, I know, but yes, your
Hocus Pocus Crush was almost played by your other, ultimate crush. Alas, Leo chose to go shoot What eats Gilbert Raisinand so the role went to Omri Katz.
LA Takes Their Silly String Ban Seriously
In 2004, people bought a bunch of Silly String from vendors on the street and made such a mess that the city passed a law banning the use or sale of everyone’s favorite canned string between 12:01 a.m. on October 31 and 12:00 p.m. on November 1.
New York City hosts the world’s largest Halloween parade
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The Greenwich Village Halloween Parade is absolutely gigantic, with over two million spectators and some of the most elaborate and hilarious costumes you can imagine.
The fastest pumpkin carving ever recorded is 16 seconds
I admit that the first time I read this one, I was a bit skeptical. I mean, what did the guy sculpt? One nose? But no, Steve Clarke is actually an incredibly talented sculptor, and if you don’t believe me, check out his Instagram. He holds the world record for the fastest jack-o’-lantern.
The original Halloween masks may have been real skulls
Many may know that the origins of Halloween can be traced back to the ancient Celts, who celebrated Samhain – a festival that commemorated the end of the harvest season – by dressing up in costumes and throwing a wild party and feast. But what you might not know is that the “costumes” of the Celts were probably made of real animal parts and animal skins. (Whether or not they ordered these items using their Prime account or simply paid for shipping remains unknown.)
The origin of the jack-o’-lantern comes from an Irish folktale about a man who wanted free beer
Roy Rochlin/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
So the folk tale is long and a little weird, but basically all you need to know is that it involves the devil and an Irishman named Stingy Jack who didn’t want to pay for his own pints. Jack asks the Devil to help him buy some tricks, but eventually the Devil and Jack argue, and the Devil leaves Jack to wander the earth alone. He presents Jack with a hot coal, which Jack then places inside a carved turnip to create a lantern to light his way. The Irish called this mythical, wandering figure, you guessed it, Jack of the Lantern.
The Halloween pranks were much more intense than some tree toilet paper.
Some of the “tricks” played in the United States in the late 1800s were so violent that some cities nearly banned the party. The tricks of the time were much more intense than just skimming a house – people used to put cattle on people’s roofs or run through the streets crushing people with sacks of flour . So uh, yeah. Let’s be thankful that the old “cow on the roof” trick is no longer a vacation staple.
Halloween cards were a thing
Rykoff Collection/Corbis Historical/Getty Images
This is a particularly fun fact. Apparently people used to send each other cards the same way we do Christmas cards now. From around 1905 to 1920, people were sending out these (kinda spooky) Halloween postcards.
The Irish Potato Famine Brought Halloween to America
During the Potato Famine of 1845, over a million people fled Ireland for the United States, taking with them their many Halloween traditions. Customs and stories quickly spread and Halloween was soon celebrated across the country.
Reader’s Digest will tell you the most popular Halloween costume of the year you were born.
Alright, that’s pretty fun. If you go here they list the most popular Halloween costume by year, since 1950. It’s totally beyond my age to admit it, but I have to say I was pretty thrilled to hear that
Rocky Horror’s Frank N’ Furter was the best costume the year I came on the scene.
During World War II, trick-or-treat candy was banned
Harold M. Lambert/Archive Photos/Getty Images
When sugar was rationed during World War II, it put a five-year end to the distribution of Halloween candy. Remember that when you watch your kid pull seven mini Snickers out of your neighbor’s bowl.
Halloween was once called Snap Apple Night
In Ireland in the 1800s, Snap Apple Night was another name for Halloween. Probably because they played a game in which an apple hung on a string, and the children were then blindfolded and had to try to bite the fruit.
In Germany, they worry about the safety of their ghosts
Although the logic might seem a bit flimsy, in Germany it’s a Halloween tradition to hide all the knives in the house so that if ghosts come back, they won’t get hurt. One can only assume that German ghosts are a.) exceptionally clumsy b.) capable of being stabbed.
Here’s how to see a witch on Halloween
According to an old folk tradition, if you put your clothes inside out and then walk backwards on Halloween, you will see a witch.
Sean Connery, Harry Houdini and River Phoenix all died on Halloween.
The world’s most famous magician, Britain’s best spy and beloved actor all died on October 31.
In a small town in France, red rubber noses lead to an arrest.
HUM Images/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
In Vendargues, France, they have banned dressing up as a clown for Halloween. It’s not because the French are particularly terrified of Pennywise, but rather because several years ago a group of traveling teenagers dressed up as clowns and terrorized the place with vandalism and random attacks. . Yeah.
The idea was originally to scare the spirits, not your neighbors.
In ancient Celtic tradition, people wore costumes to Samhain (the pagan holiday from which Halloween evolved) in order to thwart ghosts. They wore masks after dark so that wandering spirits would think they were just spirit companions for a night walk.
Sweet corn used to be called chicken feed
When sweet corn was first invented in the late 1880s, it was actually called “chicken feed.” It was also generally enjoyed by the public and did not spark such heated debate over whether it is in fact delicious or revolting.
Some people have bought trucks for the sole purpose of transporting their giant Halloween skeletons.
Home Depot’s massive Halloween decorations are both loved and reviled. But, some people enjoy them so much that they’ve actually purchased vehicles just to transport them, and some have even rented entire storage units in which to store their beloved bones.
So. Lots of spooky Halloween facts to dazzle your kids’ friends with, as you try to distract them from the fact that you’re now completely out of Tootsie Rolls. Good evening Snap Apple to you!
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