Halloween Trivia And Fun Facts About The Spooky Holiday

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Halloween Trivia and Fun Facts About the Spooky Holiday

This year, Halloween falls on a Saturday with a full moon in the sky. The holiday always falls on the last day of October. To celebrate the spooky season, we've got some Halloween trivia and interesting facts for you — like why do people dress up in costumes on Halloween? And what's the door-to-door trick or treating all about?

Halloween Trivia and Facts

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It originated as an ancient Celtic festival.

The pagan festival known as Samhain originated from the ancient Celtic spiritual tradition. It was typically celebrated from October 31 to November 1 to "welcome the harvest and usher in the dark half of the year.”

People who participated in the festival believed the barrier between the physical and spiritual world broke down during the festival, allowing for more interactions between humans and spirits.

Samhain was a midpoint between the fall equinox and the winter solstice. After the harvest is complete, people join Druid priests for the lighting of a community fire and animal sacrifice. People took fire from the bonfire to light their hearths at home.

Some monsters crept around during Samhain.

The Celts believed there was a breachable barrier between worlds during Samhain. They prepared offerings for fairies because of this. Since the barrier was permeable, Celts wanted to protect their ancestors who may want to cross over. They dressed up as monsters so that the fairies wouldn't try to kidnap their ancestors.

A shape-shifting creature called the Pukah was associated with the mythology surrounding Samhain and it would the harvest offerings in the field. Another monster would be Lady Gwyn who was a headless woman in white and she would chase night wanderers; her sidekick was a black pig and it'd follow her everywhere.

The Dullahan can appear in various forms. They could come as impish creatures or headless men holding their heads while riding a horse. If anyone were to come across these headless men as they ride "flamed-eyed horses," it would be considered a death omen.

Additionally, the Faery Host — a group of hunters — would kidnap people during Samhain. The Sluagh are similar as they break into people's homes and steal souls.

Christianity has its influence on the holiday.

According to History.com, the church designated November 2nd as a day to honor the dead. They officially named it All Souls' Day.

Similar to Samhain, All Souls' Day was celebrated with bonfires, costumes, and parades. All Saints' Days goes by a couple of other names, All-hallows or All-hallowmas, which comes from the Middle English word, "alholowmesse." The night before All Saints' Day was called All Hallows Eve which evolved to Halloween.

Irish immigrants popularized Halloween.

Halloween was largely forbidden throughout colonial America for religious reasons.

When Irish immigrants came to the United States, due to the 1840s potato famine, they brought their Halloween customs with them. In the 20th century, Halloween became a principal holiday throughout the country, especially among children.

Jack-o-lanterns originated from an Irish myth about “Stingy Jack.”

The myth goes that Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink and he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin instead. Once the Devil did so, Stingy Jack pocketed the coin instead of paying for the drink. Stingy Jack pocketed the coin near a silver cross, preventing the Devil from changing back.

Jack freed the Devil upon one condition: the Devil wouldn’t bother Jack for a year; if Jack died during that year, the Devil wouldn’t be able to claim his soul. Jack tricked the Devil again the next year and managed to get the Devil not bother him for 10 years.

Jack died and God wouldn’t let him into heaven. The Devil was still upset that Jack tricked and would allow him into hell. The Devil gave Jack a lump of burning coal to light his way and sent him off into the night. Jack has been roaming ever since.

The Irish referred to Jack as “Jack of the Lantern,” later to be shortened to “Jack O’Lantern.”

People have been trick-or-treating since Medieval times.

When the church designated a day for All Souls’ Day and Christianity began to blend its celebrations with the pagan holiday, poor people would visit the homes of rich families and receive pastries. In exchange for the pastries, the poor would pray for the souls of the dead family of the homeowners. The process was known as “souling,” and children eventually took it up. 

In Scotland and Ireland, people would take part in “guising,” which is when they dress up in costumes and they’d accept offerings from different households. 

Trick or treating also has its origins with Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Bonfire Night. On this night, children would wear masks while begging for pennies. Guy Fawkes, a part of a group of Catholics, was executed for his part in the conspiracy to blow up the British parliament.

In the 19th century, children would carry around effigies of Guy Fawkes and they’d ask for “a penny for the guy.”

The business of Halloween is quite lucrative.

In 2019, people in the United States spend about $2.6 billion on candy for Halloween. According to Forbes, people spent about $575 million on pumpkins in 2018. Last year, sales were projected to reach about $8.8 billion which was an increase from the previous decade which totaled only $4.8 billion. 

The Halloween industry has boomed in the last couple of decades. There is even an annual convention called ScareLA. The convention premiered in 2013 and it served as the “first fan festival dedicated to the spirit of Halloween.” 

ScareLa is in the middle of the summer in Southern California and it has performances by horror theatre companies and musicians. There are screenings of horror films, cosplay, and even interactive experiences. You could say that it’s the Comic-Con of Halloween.

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Halloween trivia questions:

1. What’s the ancient holiday that Halloween originated from?

2. Which culture did the original Halloween holiday come from?

3. How was Halloween popularized in the United States?

4. How was Sanheim celebrated?

5. How did the Romans celebrate their version of Halloween?

6. Which religion had some influence on Halloween?

7. What is the story behind Jack O’lantern?

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8. Who is Guy Fawkes?

9. What’s the difference between “guising” and “souling”?

10. How are the Faery Host and the Sluagh different?

Halloween trivia answers: 

1. A pagan holiday called Samhain

2. Celtic culture

3. Irish immigrants brought it with them when they came to the U.S to escape the 1840s famine

4. A festival with bonfires that lasted for two days 

5. A festival called Feralia and a festival that celebrated the Roman goddess of fruits and trees, Pomona

6. Christianity

7. “Stingy Jack” fooled the Devil twice and the Devil sent him into the dark with only a lump of burning coal.

8. A man who was a part of a conspiracy to blow up the British parliament. 

9. Guising is when people dress up in costumes and accept offerings from various people. Souling is when the poor would go house to house to receive pastries and they would pray for the souls of the dead relatives of the household owners.

10. The Faery Host would fully kidnap people while the Sluagh only stole their souls.

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Chinyere (pronounced sha-near-ruh) is a writer who covers entertainment and pop culture news, along with the zodiac signs.