Here are some 10 Fun Facts about Halloween:
1. “Jack o’lantern” comes from the Irish legend of Stingy Jack – Legend has it that Stingy Jack invited the devil to have a drink with him, but Jack didn’t want to pay for the drink, so he convinced the devil to turn himself into a coin. Instead of buying the drink, he pocketed the coin and kept it close to a silver cross in his house, preventing the devil from taking shape again.
He promised to let the devil go as long as he would leave Jack alone for a year – and that if Jack died, the devil wouldn’t claim his soul. After a year, Jack tricked the devil again to leave him alone and not claim his soul. When Jack died, God didn’t want such a conniving person in heaven and the devil, true to his word, would not allow him into hell.
Jack was sent off into the night with only a burning coal to light his path. He placed the coal inside a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the earth ever since. People in Ireland and Scotland began creating their own creations of Jack’s lanterns out of turnips, beets and potatoes. The tradition traveled to the United States along with the immigrants and people began to use pumpkins, native to North America, for the lanterns instead.
2. Candy corn was originally called Chicken Feed – It was created in the 1880s. Because corn is what was used to feed chickens, the creation was called “Chicken Feed” and the box was marked with a colorful rooster.
3. Trick-or-treating comes from “souling” – It was believed that phantoms walked the earth on the night of Samhain, so people would dress up in costumes in an effort to repel the spirits.
4. The most lit jack o’lanterns on display is 30,581 – According to Guinness World Records, the highest number of lit jack o’lanterns on display is 30,581 by the City of Keene, New Hampshire in 2013.
5. Halloween folklore is full of fortune-telling and magic – Old English folklore about Halloween is full of superstition and fortune-telling that still lingers today, like bobbing for apples or avoiding black cats. One piece of folklore says that if a young unmarried person walks down the stairs backwards at midnight while holding a mirror, the face that appears in the mirror will be their next lover.
6. Day of the Dead should really be called Days of the Dead – The Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, takes place October 31 through November 2 in Mexico and a few other Hispanic countries.
7. Michael Myers’ mask is actually a William Shatner mask – The movie was actually filmed on such a tight budget that the crew used the cheapest mask they could find: a $2 Star Trek Captain James Kirk mask. They spray painted it white and reshaped the eye holes, making William Shatner look incredibly creepy.
8. Halloween originated from an ancient Celtic festival – According to History.com, the Halloween we know today can trace its roots back to the ancient Celtic end-of-harvest festival of Samhain. During Samhain, people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off evil spirits.
9. Des Moines has a hilarious tradition called Beggars’ Night – According to an article in the Des Moines Register, the event began around 1938 as a way to prevent vandalism and give younger children a safer way to enjoy Halloween. Beggars’ Night is very similar to regular trick-or-treating, except kids are required to tell a joke, poem or perform a “trick” for a treat.
10. The White House is haunted – The most common ghost sighting is of Abraham Lincoln who has been spotted by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands and Sir Winston Churchill. Other paranormal guests include Andrew Jackson, David Burns and Abigail Adams.