Halloween is a spooky holiday that allows people to be someone else for a day and eat as much candy as they want, without worrying about the calories they are bound to consume. It’s also a day to celebrate witches and ghosts, and everything else that goes bump in the night. For kids, the 31st of October is the only day of the year where they can stay out after dark, dress like their heroes, and beg people for candy. It’s no wonder why so many people love this haunted holiday. But even with all the celebrations that we devote to Halloween, there’s still a lot most of us don’t know about it. So in honor of the upcoming holiday, below is a list of ten things that you didn’t know about Halloween. Some of them are spooky, some of them are downright strange, and others might give you something to talk about during the upcoming Halloween festivities.
9. Halloween Is Said To Have Originated In Ireland
Although nobody is completely certain where and when Halloween began, most historians agree that it all began in Ireland, more than 2,000 years ago. The Celtic Festival called Samhain is believed to be the inspiration behind today’s Halloween festivities. The Celtics believed that during Samhain, the veil between our world and the world of the “undead” came down so that all of the people who had died the year before, could move onto the afterlife. The Celtics celebrated this time by having feasts, making bonfires and playing games.
8. The First Jack O’ Lantern Was Made Out Of A Turnip
Although decorating your house with Jack’ O Lanterns is one of the most iconic ways to celebrate Halloween, people actually used to use turnips to celebrate the spooky holiday. The inspiration for using turnips came from an old folktale that told the story of a Blacksmith who couldn’t get into heaven because he was always bragging that he was the best blacksmith in the world. As a result, the man was forced to wander the Earth in darkness for all eternity. To help him along his journey, the blacksmith put a burning lump of coal inside a turnip to use as a lantern. Eventually, turnips were replaced by pumpkins after the founding of the British colonies, which made orange gourds more accessible for everyone.
7. Harry Houdini Died on Halloween
Houdini died of Peritonitis on October 31, 1926. After his death, an investigation was started to find out the possible causes. Many people believed that Gordon Whitehead, a McGill University student, caused the magician’s untimely death. The student had delivered multiple blows to Houdini’s abdomen, which could have caused him to rupture his appendix. After receiving the blows, Houdini visited the doctor with a fever of 102 degrees Fahrenheit. Although the doctor advised that Houdini go into surgery immediately, Houdini believed that the show must go on and took the stage for his last performance on October 24th. After the investigation into Houdini’s death, the magician’s insurance company concluded that the blows to the stomach he had received were what caused his death.
6. People Wore Masks On Halloween So Ghosts Couldn’t Recognize Them
During the Samhain festival, Celts believed that the veil between our world and the next was temporarily dropped, meaning that ghosts could wander among the living during this time. So to avoid being recognized by a ghost, Celts would dress up in masks in hopes that the ghosts wouldn’t identify them. The tradition of putting on a mask to celebrate Halloween continues to this day.
5. Halloween Is The Only Holiday With A Clinical Phobia
As we all know, Halloween is a day dedicated to scaring, so it’s no wonder that some people have developed a phobia surrounding the day. It’s called Samhainophobia, and it basically means that you have a fear of the Holiday and anything else that triggers memories of it, like a haunted house. People who suffer from Samhainophobia are usually frightened by costumes, loud noises and the otherworldly sense of Halloween.
4. In Alabama, It’s Illegal To Dress Up Like A Priest For Halloween
There are a lot of strange laws surrounding Halloween. For example, in Bellville, Missouri children who are past the 8th grade can’t ask for candy in public, in Walnut Creek, California you must have a permit to wear a mask and in Alabama, it’s illegal to dress up like a priest. The law states that if a person is, “Fraudulently pretending to be a clergyman,” the said person will be arrested and fined. With all these laws in place, the cops must really have their hands full on Halloween.
3. Trick Or Treating Was Put On Hold During WWII
Trick or Treating evolved from an old European custom, where people would visit the houses of wealthier neighbors on “All Souls Day” and ask for, “soul cake.” In return for the cake they would receive, the beggars would promise to pray for the dead of the household. Eventually, children took up this tradition and over the years, it became trick or treating. However, during several years of WWII, the joyous tradition of trick or treating was put on hold because of sugar rationing. Luckily, the tradition managed to make a comeback in June of 1947.
2. Jack O’ Lanterns Are Used To Ward Off Evil Spirits
In addition to dressing up in masks in order to confuse evil spirits, the Celts would also leave carved out turnips on their front porches in order to ward off the evil spirits. Eventually, the burning turnip would be replaced by the Jack O’ Lantern that we all recognize today. Nowadays, we carve pumpkins in order to celebrate Halloween and of course, eat pumpkin seeds, but according to the Celts, they can also be helpful in warding off unwanted spirits.
1. Shelters Don’t Allow Black Cats To Be Adopted Around Halloween
Many animal shelters don’t allow black cats to be adopted around Halloween. This is because they fear that the black cats who are adopted will be submitted to torture and sacrifice. According to a representative of the Cat’s Cradle, in the month of October people, “do horrible things to cats, especially black cats…I mean ritual torture and killing.” Many people use black cats for sacrificial purposes during the month of October. In order to remedy this tragedy, shelters across America have forbidden the adoption of black cats during October.