The Hopatcong Arrow is counting up twenty of the most interesting, insane, and downright scariest facts about Halloween.
We all know that Halloween is the time of the year to dress up in costumes, gorge yourself on candy, and T.P. the house of that nasty neighbor of yours. But pretty soon, you’ll realize that there are a whole bunch of fun and freaky facts about good old Hollow’s Eve that you would have never guessed! So here they are, twenty facts you probably didn’t know about Halloween.
1. You’ve Been Spelling it Wrong
Halloween (a shortened term for Hollow’s Eve) is actually written down in Old English as, Hallowe’en (and you thought there, their, and they’re was a problem).
2. Back to Its Roots
No one is positive as of how Halloween originally got started, but historians know that the holiday was first celebrated over 3,000 years ago by the Celtics. Halloween also has its roots in Christian, Pagan, and even ancient Egyptian cultures!
3. Trick or Prayer!
The phrase “Trick or Treat” wasn’t used until a 1927 Chicago newspaper first coined it. The first form of trick or treating was done in Medieval Ireland and England; poor children and beggars would go door to door asking for food and coins in exchange for prayers for the person’s dead relatives. However, nowadays with kids, it’s either give up some of your Snickers or find all your trees covered in toilet paper.
4. Not All Spooks
Halloween wasn’t intentionally meant to try to get you scared out of your pants every year. The Celtics would dress like ghouls and zombies in order to blend in with the supposed spirits that would rise from the dead every year; it was believed that every Halloween night, the line between the land of the living and the land of the dead was blurred, and both our worlds could collide. This also meant that if spirits could be trapped in our world, then we could become trapped in theirs! This belief is what started the earliest urban legends and scary stories we’re told every year.
5. I Want To Play a Game
Begging for candy and defacing public property weren’t the original activities for Halloween. Games like Bloody Mary and The Bathroom Game (don’t go Googling that one) have been played all throughout history. Early renditions of these games were a little more innocent; it was a common belief among young Scottish girls that if they held a wet sheet in front of a burning fire, they would see the image of their future husband- but if they saw either an old woman or a skull, then they would die before marriage! However, no conversation about scary things to play on Halloween can be completed without the infamous Ouija Board. The Board was created in 1890 and was the first board game to sell more copies than Monopoly!
We all pass a couple of jack-o-lanterns on doorsteps every Halloween, but I bet you had no idea the first ones were originally made from turnips. The story of the jack-o-lantern originates in Ireland over 2,000 years ago; a man by the name of Jack (believed to be a Warlock) had been caught too many times mocking and tricking the devil by the devil himself! This caused Jack to be banned from both Heaven and Hell, leaving him to wander the Earth for all eternity with nothing but a burning lump of coal inside a pumpkin to guide his way (Nightmare BeforeChristmas, anyone?).
7. Some Unlikely Visitors (Arachnophobia Alert!)
Some ancient religions claimed that encountering a spider on Halloween is actually the spirit of a loved one watching over you. (Sorry, but loved one or not, I’m squashing that little spawn of Satan). No spiders, no problem- maybe you were born on Halloween instead. Those who were born on October 31st have reportedly been able to both see and hear spirits.
8. Here, Kitty Kitty!
It’s impossible to pass through a Halloween store without seeing something with a black cat on it. However, the origin of black cats being symbols is pretty dark (…ba dum, tss). The ancient Celtics first believed that black cats, along with pretty much every other kind, were witches in disguise. Every Halloween night the Celts would gather cats from all over and burn them over a pile of wicker in order to “cleanse their society.” As of the 1940’s, due to the dozens of reports of cats being found tortured and slaughtered on the morning of November 1st, animal shelters reportedly are bound by law to refuse anyone to take home a black cat a week prior to Halloween.
9. Black and Orange, Black and Orange, Black and Orange
The most popular colors of Halloween are orange and black. Orange symbolizes the fall harvest, while black represents death.
Ah, there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing all that junk you’ve pulled into your pillow case at the end of the night. As of recent studies, 50% of children prefer receiving chocolate, while 24% prefer non-chocolate and 10% prefer gum (but I seriously doubt rarely any of kids want gum. Don’t you ever notice how much people lose their minds when you pull out a pack of gum in class?)
11. Speaking of Which…
Remember those fights you used to have with your parents when they told you they had to check your candy? Well, not all of those stories are entirely urban legends; in the late 1970’s in Long Island, a woman named Helen Fio was arrested and sent to prison for lacing her Halloween candy with arsenic tablets that killed almost twelve kids and three adults. Again, the same year, an eight-year-old boy was found dead after he was found with cyanide and heroin in his system. It turned out that the boy’s own father had drugged his son to take out a life insurance policy, and was planning to go after his daughter next!
12. Speaking of Witch…
The most common Halloween costumes for women are witches, while the most common costumes for men are vampires. Other popular costumes include zombies, Frankenstein’s Monster, werewolves, ghosts, and cats. The popularity of Halloween costumes are determined by the most popular topics of media and current events. (Do you know how many Snookis we had roaming Hopatcong in 2011? A lot).
13. On the Topic of Costumes…
Despite the idea that Halloween is for children, 62% of costumes bought every year are for adults. And if that doesn’t annoy you, this will: $310 million every single year is spent on costumes for pets. ($310 million…Think of all the starving children in the world. Is dressing up your pooch like a hot dog the best thing to do with your money?)
14. Money, Money, Money!
Candy companies gross in almost $2 billion worth of candy every year- that’s 6 million pounds! Because of this, Halloween is the 2nd most profitable holiday behind Christmas.
Samhainophobia (Samhain was the very first name for Halloween) is the irrational fear of October 31st. Side effects include panic attacks, heavy breathing, and just overall freaking out. It has been shown that people who fear Halloween also suffer from trisadexaphobia, or the fear of the number 13. (I’m not totally sure why this is. Like I said, Christmas tops Halloween in sales and popularity. Which would be scarier—scary movies and pumpkins, or a creepy old man breaking into your house at night and watching you sleep? Think about it.)
Even though Halloween began as a European tradition, most countries around the world view it as an annoying and useless marketing technique used by Americans to make money (well, duh). On the contrary, there are several other countries that celebrate their own Halloween. In Mexico and Latin America, Dia De Muertos (The Day of the Dead) is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd. People who take part in it paint their faces like skulls and dance through the street to honor their deceased friends and family.
17. Hooray for Variety
Although the most common color is orange, pumpkins also come in blue, purple, green, and white. So now instead of just a pumpkin, you can carve all your favorite characters like Cookie Monster, Grimace, Ninja Turtles, or Michael Jackson.
18. Started From the Bottom, Now Michael Meyers is Here
Who said we were just talking about the holiday? Halloween, which was made in 1978, began with an extremely low (and sad) budget of only $325,000- compared to its rivals which had millions to spend. Although it started with a poor budget, the movie grossed $47 MILLION at the box office! Following countless sequels, the series has grossed in almost $2 billion dollars! The next installment of Halloween will be released next year and will be called, Halloween: Out of New Material.
19. Sink Your Teeth Into This One!
We’ve all heard stories of vampires, long before Twilightand Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But do you know how real people claim vampires to be? In 1962, Dr. Donald A. Reed founded The Count Dracula Society, an organization for members who claimed to be vampires to meet and discuss their lives. If you believe that you are one of these people, then you might want to see a doctor because chances are you may suffer from Porphyria, or the Vampire Disease (or just insanity). Porphyria is an extremely rare disease that causes receding gum lines, giving the impression of fangs. Not only that, when victims are exposed to light, they experience severe sun burns and boils.
20. It’s All a Conspiracy
We often see those ridiculous masks in costume stores of Obama or Hilary Clinton or other infamous officials. But did you know that if you buy those, you may be in control of the next U.S. president? Since Bill Clinton and Bob Dole ran against each other in 1996, the candidate with the most Halloween mask sales has become the new president! Even with Barack Obama and John McCain (and again with Mitt Romney), Obama’s mask sales were the most successful. So if you want to become president, just make sure your mask is ridiculous enough.
Think about it: did you learn anything new from this article? Hopefully, it has made you think twice about going head-first into your candy this Halloween. Maybe we’ll surprise you again in the next Top 20 article. Until then, have fun and be safe this year (because bonus fact: Reportedly most hit and runs that involve children and teenagers take place on Halloween)!