Free candy, creative costumes, carving pumpkins -- everybody loves Halloween! Here are some of the devilish details about the scariest and sweetest night of the year.
Horrifying Holiday Traditions
Why are pumpkins a Halloween tradition?
Using pumpkins as lanterns at Halloween is based on an ancient Celtic custom brought to America by Irish immigrants. All Hallows' Eve on October 31 marked the end of the old Celtic calendar year. On that night, hollowed-out gourds with candles inside were placed on windowsills to welcome home spirits of deceased ancestors and to ward off evil spirits, including a restless soul named "Stingy Jack."
Why do we don masks and silly costumes for Halloween?
Believing that spirits and ghosts roamed the land on All Hallows' Eve, the ancients Celts wore costumes and masks to avoid detection by these ghosts.
What's with the door-to-door begging for candy?
Have you ever wondered how trick-or-treating began? On All Hallows' Eve, the Celts would leave food on their doorsteps to keep the hungry ghosts from entering their homes.
Did you know...
- Black cats were once believed to be witch's assistants who protected their powers.
- Orange and black are Halloween colors because orange represents the fall harvest, and black is associated with darkness and death.
Frightening Food Facts
- The world's record for biggest pumpkin is currently held by a gigantic gourd weighing a whopping 1,385 pounds!
- Did you know that pumpkin is the best source of vitamin A among all canned fruits and vegetables? With just a half a cup giving you three times the recommended daily requirement, it really is the Great Pumpkin!
Corny Candy Facts
- Each year 2 billion dollars is spent on Halloween candy. Now that's a lot of candy -- and cavities!
- More than 35 million pounds of candy corn will be produced this year. That equates to nearly 9 billion pieces -- enough to circle the moon nearly four times if laid end-to-end.
- What's the most popular Halloween candy? Snickers tops the list for trick-or-treaters.
- Tootsie Rolls were the first wrapped penny candy in America.
- Did you know that chocolate is better for your child's teeth than hard candy? Chocolate rinses more easily from the mouth by saliva, leaving it in contact with teeth for a shorter time. Chocolate also contains tannins, which inhibit the action of cavity-causing bacteria. Finally, a good excuse to indulge!
More Terror-ific Tidbits
The movie Halloween was made in just 21 days in 1978, on a very limited budget.
It's not uncommon for people to be afraid of Halloween. In fact, there's even a name for this fear: Samhainophobia.
Originally published on HealthyKids.com, August 2004.