As Halloween approaches, it’s time to brush up on your spooky knowledge. While you may think you know everything there is to know about Halloween, there are some fascinating facts about the history of Halloween that may surprise you. From its pagan origins to its modern-day traditions, Halloween has a rich and interesting history that is worth exploring. Here are a few bet-you-didn’t-know facts about the history of Halloween.
1. Halloween’s origins are rooted in an ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain. Celebrated on November 1st, Samhain marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. The Celts believed that during this time, the veil between the living and the dead was thinnest, and that spirits could cross over into the world of the living.
2. Trick-or-treating has roots in medieval Europe. During the Christian holiday of All Souls’ Day, poor people would go door-to-door asking for food in exchange for prayers for the dead. This tradition eventually merged with pagan Samhain customs, and became the trick-or-treating we know today.
3. The first Jack-o’-lanterns were actually made out of turnips. Irish legend tells the story of Stingy Jack, who tricked the devil and was doomed to wander the earth forever. Jack carved a turnip and placed a candle inside to light his way, and thus the first Jack-o’-lantern was born.
4. Halloween didn’t become popular in the United States until the mid-1800s, when Irish immigrants brought their Halloween traditions with them. It wasn’t until the 20th century that Halloween became the holiday we know today, with costumes, candy, and decorations.
5. Black cats are often associated with Halloween, but in some cultures they are considered lucky. In ancient Egypt, cats were worshipped and thought to bring good luck. In Japan, black cats are believed to bring prosperity and good fortune.
6. Halloween is the second highest grossing commercial holiday after Christmas. Americans spend billions of dollars on costumes, candy, and decorations each year.
7. The largest pumpkin ever recorded weighed over 2,600 pounds. The pumpkin was grown in Belgium and set a new world record in 2016.
As you can see, the history of Halloween is full of surprises and fascinating facts. Whether you’re carving a pumpkin or donning a spooky costume, take a moment to appreciate the rich history behind this beloved holiday.