25 Things You Didn’t Know About Halloween

Posted by on October 22, 2012

Every October 31st people all over the world (or at least in most parts of Europe, North America, and Latin America) celebrate the ancient holiday of Halloween, also known as All Hallows’ Eve. Although today it features costumes, trick-or-treating, and ghost stories it wasn’t always that way. Read on to find out 25 things you didn’t know about Halloween.



samhainophobiaSamhainophobia is the fear of Halloween.


ghoulsIn case you were wondering, Samhain is actually an ancient Celtic celebration during which people would dress up as ghouls and spirits in order to escape the notice of what they thought were real spirits wandering the streets.


apple bobbingSamhain wasn’t the only ancient festival to influence modern day Halloween. Pomona, an ancient Roman festival had a strong influence as well, especially with events like bobbing for apples.

Numerous Names

All Hallow's EveHalloween has been called a number of things throughout the years including All Hallow’s Eve, Lamswool, Samhain, Summer’s End, and Snap-Apple Night.

Hallowe ‘en

Hallow's EveThe modern name of “Halloween” derives from “Hallowe ‘en”, a contraction of the phrase All Hallows’ Eve.


trick or treatTrick or treating comes from an ancient Celtic tradition where people would put out treats to appease wandering spirits during the festival of Samhain.

An Owl’s Call

owlsOwls are popular halloween images. In medeival europe they were thought to be witches and hearing an owl’s call meant death was near.

Jack’s Lantern

jack o' lanternsAccording to Irish legend Jack O’Lanterns get their name from a stingy man known as Jack who after trying to trick the devil several times was denied entrance into both heaven and hell. Since then he has been condemned to wander the Earth waving his lantern to lead people from their paths.


souling“Souling” could be considered the medeival equivelant of trick or treating. Every November 1 on Hallowmas the poor would go from door to door offering prayers on behalf of the dead in exchange from soul cakes.

Irish Roots

irelandAlthough Halloween has certainly been influence by numerous ancient holidays and festivals, Ireland is widely considered to the be its birthplace.

Fire Cats

catsCats hold a prominent place in Halloween folklore and during the ancient celebration of Samhain Druids supposedly through them onto fires in wicker cages as part of their divination proceedings.

Fire Sheets

fireAccording to tradition Scottish girls believed that if they hung wet sheets in front of the fire on Halloween they would see images of their future husband.

Days of the Dead

days of the deadIn Mexico, rather than celebrating Halloween they celebrate the Days of the Dead on November 1st and 2nd during which all the townspeople dress up as ghouls and parade through the streets.

Ten Chieh

teng chiehIn China people celebrate Teng Chieh, or the Lantern Festival. Lanterns in the shape of dragons are hung around town in order to lead spirits back to their earthly dwellings.

Capital Confusion

halloween capitalSalem, Massachusetts and Anoka, Minnesota are both the self-proclaimed Halloween capitals of the world.
David Pegg


After helping found the United Nations, the United States, and United Airlines, David consigned himself to a transient life of writing lists and sleeping on park benches.

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  • Gnargle Snarl

    Samhain is pronounced ‘Sowin’or Sah-win’. Where is the source for ‘fire cats’? Surely what little we know about Celtic festival celebrations contains no succinct descriptions. Are the wicker cage burnings based on ancient Roman writings? Some vague notion? Wild speculation? Anyone?

  • John John Johnson, son of John

    The spelling on this article is atrocious.

    • Lord Joe

      He even pronounced Samhain completly wrong. It’s understandable though. Galic has wierd phonics.
      But pronouncing Celtic with an ‘S’ sound and not a ‘K’ is unfogivable.

      • Albie

        You say that yet spell the word “weird” incorrectly as well as “Gaelic” and “unforgivable”.