Ten Fun Facts About Halloween
1. Putting On the Dog
It has been estimated that Americans now spend about 350 million dollars on Halloween costumes just for their pets. The dog is by far the biggest participant in the fall extravaganza, with the cat (especially the black cat) coming in a distant second. For all the money spent on the four-legged creatures, the pumpkin is the number one costume choice with the hot dog, pirate, bumblebee, and devil following in that order.
Pet Parade at Tompkins Square NYC
2. The Custom of Trick or Treating Did Not Become Common Till the 1950s
When the custom of trick-or-treating first came to America, it involved a lot of tricking and not very much treating. Somewhere in the middle of the twentieth century, youngsters began demanding treats in promise that they would not play any tricks on the worried homeowner. After WWII, the practice of providing cheap candy to costumed beggars took off, in essence creating the modern-day scenario, where Halloween trick-or-treaters go door to door, collecting their loot.
3. October Is By Far the Most Popular Month To Release a Horror Movie
According to Where'stheJump website 40 major horror flicks have been released in October between the years of 1995 and 2015. Next on the list is August with 28, and then there is a serious drop off with the other ten months all having 20 or less horror releases. By the way, the original Halloween, a low-budget slasher flick, was released on October 25, 1978. The film went on to gross over 70 million despite lousy reviews and still remains a popular title in the horror genre.
4. Soul Cakes
All Soul's Day falls on November 2 and it is the time honor all deceased Christians, not just the Saints and Martyrs. Beginning in medieval times, prosperous English families would fix small spicy cakes called "soul cakes," and when the poorer residents (especially children) came around on November 2, they would sing a song and receive the sweet treat.
It is believed that this custom may have lead to our current Halloween custom of trick or treating.
An Old-fashioned Halloween Card
5. Halloween Cards
Halloween is now the sixth largest occasion for sending a greetings card to a dear friend or a loved one. According to Hallmark, about 20 million Halloween cards are sent out each year.
This ties in with the old European tradition that Halloween was the perfect time of year to find and hook up with one's soul mate.
6. Halloween Candy Is Big Business
Since the close of WWII, the celebration of Halloween was increased dramatically. Nowhere is this more evident than in the sales of Halloween candy. Today, it is estimated that Americans will spend just over 2 billion on Halloween candy, second only to Christmas. Chocolate is definitely first on the list, with candy corn coming in a distant second.
7. Bobbin' for Apples
Bobbin' or trying to grab an apple floating in a tub of water is a common game played by people of all ages at Halloween. Some speculation has the Irish and Scottish custom going all the way back to the original pagan celebration of Samhain, but recent research indicates that the popular autumn activity may be more recent in its advent.
Simply put, bobbin' for apples is a fortune-telling or wish-making enterprise, where the successful participant often asks for a wish come true.
Fun Facts from the Dent Schoolhouse
Fear of Halloween
Fear of Halloween is called "Samhainophobia." It is simply the combination of two words, Samhain and phobia. Phobia is a Latin term that means "fear of", while Samhain is the pagan celebration in the Celtic language. By the way, Samhain simply means "summer's end."
In reality Samhainophobia is not literally about the fear of summer ending, but rather it revolves around the many frightening iconic ghostly figures that are now associated with Halloween. Currently, there are quite a few and their presence can be quite scary to some people.
9. Halloween Abuse
Several places around the U.S.have passed laws and ordinances designed to curtail the petty pranks and actual vandalism that can be quite common on Halloween or even the night before Halloween, which goes by many names such as Gate Night, Cabbage Night, Mischief Night or Devil's Night. Where I grew up in Maryland it was called Moving Night, but that term does not to appear in use outside the Baltimore area.
Anyway growing concerns about vandalism committed on October 31 and 30 have to lead to a various array of local ordinances in an attempt to keep the damage to private property under control. Some municipalities have established age limits for trick-or-treaters, while others have imposed curfews.
10. The English Aren't All That Fond of Halloween
If you had any doubts that Halloween originated in Ireland and parts of Scotland, you ought to check out this little bit of trivia from Jolly Ole England. According to a 2006 British survey, over 50% of British households turn off the lights on Halloween and pretend not to be at home.
The truth behind the matter is that the Brits may not be as stiff-lipped and upper crust as many writers picture them, for a few days later (Nov. 5) the Guy Fawkes Day celebration hits Great Britain, a wild and woolly street party if there ever was one.