Halloween is the spookiest night of the year, when spirits move around the world freely and children wander the neighbourhood seeking treats and hopefully not doing to many tricks.
But how much do you really know about Halloween?
Being from England and moving to the USA when I was 35 years old and not being brought up on Halloween as a kid, I wasn’t sure of its origins so I did a bit of digging (not in the graves) and found these skeletons in the closet.
1/ Trick-or-treating as we know it, 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,” radio program “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” and the “Peanuts” comic strip all helped to make it popular again and the tradition of dressing up in costumes and asking for candy door-to-door. Good job the Irish introduced St Patrick’s day and trick or treating on separate days otherwise candy would all be green, Shamrocks and beer might have been orange and people would have been dressing up as scary leprechauns!
Talking of The Irish
2/ We really should carve turnips, not pumpkins.
The origin of Jack-O-Lanterns comes from a Celtic folk tale of a stingy farmer named Jack who would constantly play tricks on the devil. The devil responded by forcing him to wander purgatory with only a burning lump of coal from hell. Jack took the coal and made a lantern from a turnip, using it as a guide.
The myth was brought over by Irish families fleeing the potato famine in the 1800s, and since turnips were hard to come by in the US, America’s pumpkins were used as a substitute to keep evil spirits like “Jack of the Lantern” away.
3/ Fears of poisoned Halloween candy are not valid.. One of parents’ biggest fears is that their child’s Halloween candy is poisoned.
In reality, this fear is almost entirely unfounded. There is only one case of poisoning, and involved a relative, according to LiveScience. In 1970, a boy died of a heroin overdose. The investigators found it on his candy, but in a twist they later discovered the boy had accidentally consumed some of his uncle’s heroin stash, and the family had sprinkled some on the candy to cover up the incident.
4/ A full moon on Halloween is extremely rare.
Though common in horror movies and Halloween decorations with witches flying across a full moon, it’s actually extremely uncommon for the monthly event to coincide with October 31.
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.
5/ Halloween is the second-most commercial American holiday of the year behind Christmas
The candy industry in America brings in an average of $US2 billion annually thanks to Halloween (that’s 90 million pounds of chocolate). Actually if you take me out of the equation its more like 89 million…..
Americans spend an estimated $US6 billion on Halloween annually, including candy, costumes, and decorations, according to History.com. That’s a lot of candy corn!
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Cheers Me Little Pumpkins, have a safe and fun Halloween.