Hard to believe it’s almost Halloween—something most of us celebrate each year (even if it’s just eating candy) without knowing the “why” behind this day. With that in mind, we’ve assembled a look into some history and little-known facts behind the annual October 31st event, to give the costume-wearing and trick-or-treating context and help ensure that your night is fang-tastic!
Blame it on the Moon
So, our Halloween parties might look different this year, but a good time can still be had by all—doing it safely of course—we’re already wearing masks, right?! In addition to falling on a Saturday (which usually guarantees an extra-good time for revelers), it’s going to be the first Halloween in 19 years during a full moon. If skies are clear that will not only be beautiful, it will set the scene perfectly.
As it turns out, full moons on Halloween are pretty rare. The last one was in 2001, and before that it was way back in 1955. The next won’t occur until 2039 . . . followed by 2058, 2077 and 2096 respectively. Plan ahead (wink, wink!) and enjoy.
Sam Who, Sow What?
The tradition of Halloween originates from the 10th century with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (a Gaelic word pronounced “sow-win”), celebrated on October 31st to welcome the harvest and usher in “the dark half of the year.” There were bonfires, festivals and the Celtic traditions of “mumming” and “guising” in which people went door-to-door in costume, often reciting verses in exchange for food. Not too dissimilar from the dress-up parades and trick-or-treating of today.
It’s the Candy, Baby
Speaking of knocking on doors for goodies, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are apparently the favorite candy to receive on Halloween—an honor they’ve held for countless years running. Have you ever wondered about the treats that people like least? According to CandyStore.com, top honor for that goes to (drum-roll, please)—Candy Corn. Love it or loathe it, we’ll never say. We did find this study about it to be interesting though: where you live in the USA can determine how you eat that tri-colored treat.
- 65 percent of people (typically living in the Northeast part of the country) believe you should eat the whole piece of Candy Corn at once.
- 29 percent (typically residing in the Midwest and South) believe in starting with the narrow white end first.
- Just 7 percent of respondents (typically from Wyoming, Illinois and Maine) say that nibbling the wider yellow end is the way to go.
For a candy that doesn’t get much love, it’s funny that this much thought has been put into the eating of it.
No talk of Halloween candy is complete without Jack-o’-Lanterns, right? According to statista.com, 145 million American carved-out pumpkins in 2019.
The making of Jack-o’-Lanterns dates back to old-time Ireland where potatoes, turnips and beets were used. (Pumpkins being native to the Americas and all.) Tough as those root veggies sound to carve, the tradition was popular and all about honoring a mythical man-turned-spirit nicknamed “Stingy Jack.” Long story short, Jack was a drinking buddy of the Devil who continually offered to pay for the Devil’s drinks, but never bucked up (hence, the name “Stingy”).
When Jack died, God understandably rejected him from Heaven, and the Devil (for obvious reasons) wasn’t intent on welcoming him in Hell either. To get even, the Devil instead banished Jack’s spirit into the perpetual darkness of night with only a piece of burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip, and legend states that he’s been roaming the Earth with it ever since. The Irish initially referred to sightings of his ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern,” and then simply as “Jack o’Lantern.” The rest, as they say, is history.
Put a Ring on it, Boo!
What’s the connection between marriage and Halloween? Back in the day (again, way back), certain Halloween games and rituals were looked upon by young women as a way to improve their odds of getting hitched—with hopes that participating in them would make it happen by the following October 31st. For example:
- At parties, the first gal to get an apple in apple-bobbing contests would be deemed the first gal down the aisle. Young women also tossed apple-peels over their shoulders, hoping those peels would fall on the floor in the shape of their future husbands’ initials.
- Others stood in front of mirrors in darkened rooms, holding candles and looking over their shoulders for images of their future husbands’ faces.
- Fortune-tellers also recommended that they name a hazelnut after each of their suitors and then toss the nuts into the fireplace. The nut that burned to ashes (rather than pop or explode) represented the girl’s future husband. In some versions of this legend the opposite was true: the nut that burned away symbolized a love that would not last. Tricky!
Fun as this all sounds, that kind of husband hunting must have been exhausting. Thankfully there’s “an app for that: these days.
‘WEEN Us Up, Scottie
And last but not least, when you think the 1978 horror classic Halloween, you likely think of its star, Jamie Lee Curtis, and the psychotic “Michael Meyers” character who terrorizes Jamie Lee in the film. But do you also think Star Trek‘s William Shatner? You will now. Here’s why:
With the script determining that “Michael” would wear a mask, a production designer went to a magic shop on Hollywood Boulevard to find some options and returned to the studio with two: a clown mask and one of William Shatner as “Captain Kirk.” Wearing the clown mask as he walked in, everyone said “Ooh, that’s kind of scary.” Then (as legend has it), he put on the Shatner mask, and they all exclaimed, “It’s perfect!”
Turns out, the production designer had spray-painted the Shatner mask white and cut the eyeholes bigger! The effect was chilling and iconic. Whether you actually see Shatner’s resemblance in the legendary “Michael Meyers” mask might depend on who you ask. One thing’s certain though, you’ll never look at it the same again.
However you decide to get your Halloween on this year, we wish you a very spooky—and safe—celebration!