20 Fun and Scary Halloween Facts to Trick (or Treat) Your Friends
During the 18th century, ladies would follow Halloween traditions that would "help" them find a romantic match. According to History.com, women would: Throw apple peels over their shoulder hoping to see their future husband’s initials, competitively bob for apples at parties because the winner would be the first to get married, and stand in a dark room with a candle in front of a mirror to look for their future husband’s face. Thankfully, those traditions have died out.
2. Immigrants helped popularize the holiday in the U.S.
When the Irish fled their country in the 1840s due to the potato famine, they brought their Halloween traditions with them. By the 1920s, the holiday the mischief reached an all-time high. Some believe community-based trick-or-treating became popular in the 1930s as a way to control the excessive pranksters.
3. Americans spend about $86.27 on Halloween every year.
That includes Halloween decorations, candy, costumes, and cards by the NRF definition. (If you're curious how that compares to Christmas, Americans spent an average of $1,048 on winter holidays in 2019.)
4. This year will be the first Halloween in 19 years to have a full moon.
Full moons on Halloween are pretty rare. The last time there was a full moon on October 31, it was 2001 — and before that it was 1955. The next one won't occur until 2039. In fact, the 21st century will only see six full moons on October 31: 2001, 2020, 2039, 2058, 2077 and 2096.
5. The Irish also brought us jack-o'-lanterns.
As the story goes, an Irish man named Stingy Jack tricked the devil and therefore was not allowed into heaven or hell — so he spent his days roaming the Earth, carrying a lantern, and went by "Jack of the Lantern."
6. There's also traditional Halloween bread in Ireland.
It's called barmbrack or just "brack." The sweet loaf typically contains dark and golden raisins plus a small toy or ring. Similar to king cake at Mardi Gras, tradition dictates the person who finds the item will receive good fortune.
7. Disney almost made 'Hocus Pocus' a completely different movie.
The original title Disney's Halloween House also went along with a much darker and scarier script, according to IMDB. Another fun piece of Halloween movie trivia: Leonardo DiCaprio nearly played Max Dennison, but he turned it down to appear in What's Eating Gilbert Grape instead.
8. Illinois produces up to five times more pumpkins than any other state.
The Land of Lincoln has more than 15,000 acres devoted to gourd growing, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Those Illinois farms typically grow more than 500 million pounds of pumpkins annually.
9. Candy corn was originally called "chicken feed."
The Goelitz Confectionery Company sold boxes with a rooster on the front in order to appeal to America's agricultural roots, according to National Geographic. The sugary recipe has gone largely unchanged since the 1880s.
10. "Monster Mash" once reigned supreme on the Billboard charts.
Bobby "Boris" Pickett reached #1 on the Hot 100 in 1962 just before Halloween and later recharted in 1973 — but this time in August.
Head to Waimanalo Country Farms in Oahu to pick pumpkins while you're on the islands. Looking for squash in Florida? Try the Pickin’ Patch in Dunnellon. (It's a watermelon farm the rest of the year!)
12. The Michael Myers mask in Halloween has a fascinating backstory.
The famous horror movie villain has surprisingly innocent roots. When shooting the original 1978 film, production designer Tommy Lee Wallace picked up two masks from a Hollywood Boulevard magic shop: a clown and William Shatner as Captain Kirk in Star Trek.
"Tommy came in with the clown mask on, and we went, 'Ooh, that’s kind of scary.' Then he put on the Shatner mask, and we stopped dead and said, 'It’s perfect,'" actor Nick Castle told the New York Times. They spray-painted it white, cut the eye holes bigger, and the rest is history.
13. The fastest pumpkin carving lasted 16.47 seconds.
Stephen Clarke holds the honor. The jack-o'-lantern had to contain a complete face, including eyes, nose, mouth, and ears.
14. New York City throws the biggest Halloween parade in the U.S.
It draws more than 2 million spectators and includes thousands participants, but it started out as a simple idea from Greenwich Village resident (and puppeteer!) Ralph Lee — a walk from house to house for his children and their friends. When the local theatre got wind of it, they turned it into a bigger event — and it's gotten bigger (and more theatrical) every year since.
15. The most popular children's costumes are princesses and superheroes.
Adults are most likely to dress as witches, according to the National Retail Federation. As for our pets? The most popular costume for dogs in 2019 was a pumpkin. And the most Googled costume of 2019? That would be It, the creepy clown created by Stephen King.
16. Skittles are the top Halloween candy.
The bite-sized candies outranked M&M's, Snickers, and Reese's Cups, according to 11 years of sales data from CandyStore.com. And even though candy corn also made the top 10, the tricolored treats also ranked among the worst Halloween candies, according to a CandyStore.com survey.
17. A city in Canada banned teens over 16 from trick-or-treating.
According to CBC, anyone over the age of 16 caught trick-or-treating — or even just wearing masks — in Bathurst, Canada, faces up to a $200 fine. The city also has a curfew for everyone else, so even those under 16 aren't allowed out after 8 p.m. on Halloween.
18. Harry Houdini died on Halloween in 1926.
The famous magician, illusionist, and entertainer died from peritonitis caused by a ruptured appendix, but multiple contradicting reports caused quite the mystery around his death.
19. Some shelters used to suspend black cat adoptions for Halloween.
They feared that the animals were in danger of satanic cults in the days leading up to Halloween. Nowadays, some shelters promote black cat adoptions in October and use interviews to weed out anyone with the wrong intentions.
20. The night before Halloween is called Mischief Night or Goosey Night in some places.