Halloween is right around the corner. Before you know it, kids in their costumes are going to be knocking on your door claiming “Trick-or-treat” to whom you’ll probably give candy to. Stories of ghouls, ghosts, and witches are starting to permeate social media, TV, and even friendly conversations. People are becoming more aware of the paranormal in one way or another, following a tradition that has been around for centuries. But have you ever been curious concerning all this hype? Where did it come from? What does it mean? What other crazy things are associated with this paranormal celebration? As you know, we thrive on curiosity and so we bring you these curiously interesting Halloween facts.
In many countries, such as France and Australia, Halloween is nothing more than an unwanted, hyper-commercialized American influence.
And who can blame them when Halloween is the 2nd most commercially successful holiday in America, with Christmas being the first.
How successful? Well, Halloween is a $6 billion Industry.
However, Halloween is thought to have originated around 4000 B.C., which means Halloween has been around for over 6,000 years and is one of the oldest celebrations in the world
Halloween celebrates the Christian holiday of All Hallows Eve (followed by All Saints Day on November 1). But the Christian holiday is likely rooted in the Celtic holiday, Samhein, or a number of other pre-Christian harvest festivals.
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And was brought to North America by immigrants from Europe who would celebrate the harvest celebration around a bonfire, sharing ghost stories, singing, dancing and telling fortunes.
Not surprising, some of the current Halloween traditions have their roots in ancient Celtic traditions as well, For example, the ancient Celts thought that spirits and ghosts roamed the countryside on Halloween night. They began wearing masks and costumes to avoid being recognized as humans.
The Jack-O-Lantern tradition also comes from olden times even though the true origin of the tradition is uncertain.
Some believe, however that part of its origin is derived from a celtic tale of a man named Jack. Jack tricked the Devil into agreeing to never take his soul. Once Jack died, because of his sins, he could not enter heaven, but because Satan agreed not to take his soul, he couldn’t go to hell either. So the Devil gave Jack a hellish ember and Jack placed the ember safely into a turnip, which he carved and carried with him.
In Great Britain, Jack-O-Lanterns are traditionally made from turnips. The Halloween custom came to America through Irish immigrants, and since turnips weren’t cheap Americans used pumpkins.
And so now we have things like Pumpkin carving in bulk, which is a popular Guinness World Record. Halloween enthusiasts in Highwood, Illinois took the record in 2011 with 30,919 simultaneously lit Jack-O-Lanterns.
Another suprising record that deal with Good Ol' Jack-O; according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the fastest time to carve a face into a pumpkin is 20.1 seconds, achieved by David Finkle of the United Kingdom. He completed the feat on Oct. 7, 2010, while filming a Halloween show for the BBC.
Arguably one of our favorite Halloween traditions; Trick-or-treating evolved from the ancient Celtic tradition of placing treats and food outside in order to placate the spirits who roamed the streets at Samhain, a sacred festival that marked the end of the Celtic calendar year.
But before that, there was “Souling”, a medieval Christian precursor to modern-day trick-or-treating in which the poor would go door-to-door on Hallowmas (November 1) offering prayers for the dead in exchange for soul cakes.
However, not everyone is a fan of trick-or-treating, In 2010, Belleville, Illinois, became the latest American city to ban trick-or-treating for kids over 12. Teens can face fines from $100 to $1,000 for going door-to-door.
Nevertheless, most major cities see the tourism benefits of major Halloween events and Halloween in general. Salem, Massachusetts and New Orleans are the traditional hotspots for celebrating Halloween in the U.S. with New Orleans boasting of the world record for the largest Halloween Party with 17,777 costumed revelers at once.
This is great news unless you are diagnosed with Samhainophobia (which is the fear of Halloween)
And when children are more than twice as likely to be killed in a pedestrian/car accident on Halloween than on any other night, this phobia may not be entirely crazy.
Talking about festivities, did you know that the word "bonfire" has it's roots in Halloween? During the pre-Halloween celebration of Samhain, bonfires were lit to ensure the sun would return after the long winters. Often Druid priests would throw the bones of cattle into the flames and, hence, “bone fire” became “bonfire.”
And on the subject of word origins, did you know that the word “witch” comes from the Old English wicce, meaning “wise woman.” In fact, wiccan were highly respected people at one time and according to popular belief, witches held one of their two main meetings, or sabbats, on Halloween night.
Nevertheless today, witches are considered to be bad news.