Archive for October, 2011


13 Things You Might Not Know About Halloween

How Jack O’Lanterns, costumes and candy became part of this holiday

1. Halloween was originally New Year’s Eve.Over 2,000 years ago, the Celts (who lived in what is now Ireland) thought November 1st, the end of harvest and summer, marked the end of one year and the start of the next.

2. From Samhain to Halloween.The Celts celebrated New Year’s with the festival of Samhain (pronounced “sow-in”, not “sam-hayn”) on the night of October 31st, when they believed the ghosts of the dead returned to roam the earth.

3. 40 million.More than 40 million children in the United States are anticipated to be trick-or-treating on Halloween. Of course, that’s just actual children aged 5 to 14. Two-thirds of all adults will participate in some sort of holiday activity, from costumes to shepherding trick-or-treaters from house to house.

4. Stingy Jack.Originating in Ireland, Jack O’Lanterns come from the myth of Stingy Jack, who, after tricking the Devil not to take his soul, was, upon his death, turned away from the Pearly Gates for his underhanded behavior. Not allowed into heaven, and with the Devil honoring their bargain not to take him to hell, the spirit of Stingy Jack was left to wander the earth with just a burning coal in a carved turnip as his lantern to light his way. To keep Jack O’Lantern’s, as he came to be called, and other wandering evil spirits away, people carved their own lanterns and placed them in their windows or near their doors.

5. 20 million.Americans consume about 20 million pounds of candy each year — the average American eats around 25 pounds of candy in a year.

6. Hallow = Saint.Samhain, the Celtic celebration, transmuted over time into the Catholic holiday, All Saints Day, which is also celebrated October 31st. “Hallow” is an old word meaning saint.

7. Charlie Sheen.The most popular costume choice across the country this year is none other than the former Two and a Half Men star himself, according to CNN. Historically, costumes and masks were donned to frighten away the spirits before they could bring disaster and destruction.

8. Best places to celebrate Halloween.Hard to beat spending the scariest night of the year in Cape Fear or Transylvania in North Carolina,  Skull Creek, Nebraska or Tombstone, Arizona.

9. Orange and black.The colors of Halloween come from the fall harvest (orange) and the walking dead (black).

10. Tootsie Rolls.The first individually wrapped candy, Tootsie Rolls first appeared, for a penny apiece, in 1896.

11. The Sincere Pumpkin Patch.“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” first aired in 1966. Although the rest of the gang goes out trick-or-treating, Linus (with his blanket and Sally) spends the night waiting for the Great Pumpkin recognize the sincerity of his pumpkin patch and appear.

12. Trick the living, treat the dead.As most Halloween traditions, trick-or-treating is based on the belief that the maleficent spirits of the dead chose that night to wander and play tricks and wreak havoc among the living. Offering food was thought to appease the spirits, dissuading them from causing trouble.

13. One ton pumpkin. The current record for the largest pumpkin ever grown stands at nearly a full ton. Last year in Stillwater, MN, Chris Stevens submitted a pumpkin in the annual Great Pumpkin Competition that weighed in at 1810.5 pounds.