25 Things You Didn’t Know About Halloween

Posted by , Updated on May 10, 2014

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.

Subscribe to List25



Samhainophobia is the fear of Halloween.




In 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 bobbing

Samhain 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 Eve

Halloween 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 Eve

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



trick or treat

Trick 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


Owls 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' lanterns

According 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” 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


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


Fire Cats


Cats 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


According 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 dead

In 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 chieh

In 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 capital

Salem, Massachusetts and Anoka, Minnesota are both the self-proclaimed Halloween capitals of the world.


Festival of the Hungry Ghosts

yue lan

In Hong Kong Halloween celebrations are known as Yue Lan or “Festival of the Hungry Ghosts”. During the festivities fires are lit and food is offered to angry spirits seeking revenge.


Not So Scary


Although Halloween today is considered a relatively scary ordeal, in the past this wasn’t the case. The ghosts that were celebrated during Samhain were actually the spirits of loved ones. The main reason fear became such a factor was because people believed that on October 31st the lines between this world and spirit world became blurred and if spirits could come here it meant that people could be transported there.



trick or treat

The first incidence of the phrase “trick-or-treating” in print appeared in a Chicago newspaper in 1927.


That’s So Gross


After Christmas, Halloween is the highest grossing holiday of the year


An Unwelcome Influence

halloween commercialized

In many countries it is seen as an unwelcome, excessively commercialized American influence.


A Word to the Wise

car accidents

Children are over 2 times as likely to be killed in a car/pedestrian accident than any other night.


Pumpkin Carving

pumpkin carving

Pumpkin carving comes from a method used by the Celts to ward off evil spirits during Samuin. They would hollow out turnips, carve faces in them, and then put candles inside to keep the spirits at bay.


A Serious Sweet Tooth


Americans purchase roughly 600 million pounds of candy every Halloween.


Not Just For Kids

adult costumes

Although modern day Halloween is typically thought of as a kid’s holiday, adult costume sales account for 62% of total costume sales every year.


Pricey Pets

pet costume

Americans will spend $310 million to dress up their pets on Halloween this year.

SEE ALSO: 25 Worst Earthquakes In History »

NOW WATCH: 25 Accidental Discoveries That You Should Be Thankful For

Subscribe to List25
Show Us Your Love
Join Over 2 Million+ List25 Fans