Here are 10 Spooky Halloween Facts That You May Not Know:
- The tradition of Halloween comes from Samhain, an ancient pagan festival celebrated by Celtic people. It took place in the United Kingdom, Ireland and northwestern France. Learn more about in our article about festivals for the dead.
- An intense and persistent fear of Halloween is called Samhainophobia. Unlike today’s lighthearted and candy-filled holiday, a festival of the dead was believed to be the day when the gates of hell would open and unleash wandering angry spirits. Hard not to be scared of that.
- The word witch comes from the Old English wicce, meaning wise woman. At one time, these women were highly respected. According to popular belief, witches held meetings, known as sabbats, on Halloween night.
- Trick-or-treating began in areas of the UK and Ireland. Poor people went house-to-house souling — so called because they asked for small breads called soul cakes in exchange for prayer.
- The first jack-o’-lanterns were actually made from turnips.
- While pumpkins are typically orange, they can also be green, white, red and gray.
- The world’s largest pumpkin weighed in at 1,054 kg (2,323 lb).
- Black cats, spiders, and bats are all Halloween symbols because of their historical ties to Wiccans. These animals were thought to be the companions of witches in the Middle Ages, and are often associated with bad luck.
- The Village Halloween Parade in New York City is the United States’s largest Halloween parade, involving 50,000 participants and over 2 million spectators.
- In many cultures people return to their hometowns on Halloween to purchase candles and flowers in preparation for All Saints’ Day on November 1st.