How much do you really know about Halloween? In honour of today’s festivities, here are 13 little-known facts about the holiday.
1. There’s a $1,000 fine for using or selling Silly String in Hollywood on Halloween. The prank product has been banned in Hollywood since 2004 after thousands of bored people would buy it on the streets of Hollywood from illegal vendors and “vandalize” the streets. The punishment is up to a $1,000 fine and/or six months in jail.
2. Halloween is still the Wiccan New Year. Halloween originates from a Celtic tradition called Samhain, a festival that marked the end of the Celtic calendar year in Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. They believed it was a time that spirits or fairies could enter our world, and the Celts would put out treats and food to placate the spirits.
3.Dressing up on Halloween comes from the Celts. Celts believed Samhain was a time when the gates opened between our world and the paranormal world. To confuse and ward off evil spirits, the Celts to wear costumes and masks during that time.
4.The moniker “Halloween” comes from the Catholics. Hallowmas is a three-day Catholic holiday where saints are honored and people pray for the recently deceased.
5.We should carve turnips, not pumpkins. The origin of Jack-O-Lanterns comes from a Celtic folk tale of a stingy farmer named Jack who went to hell with just a burning lump of coal from hell. Jack supposedly carved a lantern out of a turnip and put the coal in it. Unfortunately, turnips were hard to come by in the U.S. in the 1800s and pumpkins were used instead.
6. Halloween symbols aren’t random. Black cats, spiders, and bats are Halloween symbols because of their history and ties to Wiccans. All three were thought to be the familiars of witches in the middle ages, and are often associated with bad luck.
7. Fears of poisoned Halloween candy are unfounded. According to LiveScience, there are only two known cases of kids being poisoned by Halloween candy — and both cases involved relatives. Both incidents took place in the ’70s: One boy accidentally consumed his uncle’s heroin and another ate candy that his father had laced with cyanide. Yikes.
8. Halloween and the candy industry supposedly influenced Daylight Saving Time. Candy makers allegedly lobbied to extend daylight savings time into the beginning of November to get an extra hour of daylight. Why? Because the more time kids would have to collect candy, the more candy that the public would have to buy.
9. Candy Corn was originally known as “chicken feed.” When it was invented back in the 1880s, Candy Corn was called “chicken feed” because corn was commonly used as food for livestock. The sugary treat had no association with Halloween, and was sold seasonally from March to November.
10. A full moon on Halloween is extremely rare. It’s actually extremely uncommon for the monthly event to coincide with October 31, or any other date, for that matter. The next full moon on Halloween won’t occur until 2020. The most recent Halloween full moon was back in 2001, and before that it was in 1955.
11. Trick-or-treating has been around for a long time. Versions of trick-or-treating have existed since medieval times. In the past, it was known as “guising” where children and poor adults went around in costumes during Hallowmas begging for food and money in exchange for songs or prayers. It was also called “souling.”
12. Trick-or-treating as we know it was re-popularized by cartoons. Trick-or-treating was brought to America by the Irish and became popular during the early 20th century, but died out during WWII when sugar was rationed. After the rationing ended in 1947, children’s magazine Jack and Jill and the Peanuts comic strip all helped bring it back as a tradition.
13. Halloween is the second-most commercial American holiday of the year. Americans spend an estimated $6 billion on Halloween each year, shelling out their cash on candy, costumes and decorations. That puts the holiday a close-second (in spending terms) behind Christmas.