What do you get if you divide the circumference of a Jack-o’-Lantern by its diameter? Pumpkin π!—John Evans
It’s everyone’s favorite orange-and-black holiday! It’s the time of year where cinnamon is in the air, and everyone’s thinking about what kind of costume they’ll put together for Halloween festivities. Here are some “bewitching” fun facts about this spooky holiday to get you in the “spirit” of the month!
Halloween’s origins come from the ancient Celtic harvest-end festival Samhain (pronounced sah-win), during which people lit bonfires and wore costumes to ward off evil spirits. In the 8th century, Pope Gregory III declared November 1 All Saint’s Day or All Hallows Day. The night before, when the traditional Samhain festival took place, was called All Hallows Eve—what we know today as Halloween.
Similarly, Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos), which takes place on November 1 and November 2 in Mexico and many other Latin American countries originated from Aztec, Toltec, and other Nahua traditions. When conquistadors arrived in Mexico during the 16th century, Dia de los Muertos celebrations were combined with Catholic All Saints’ Day celebrations. Today, the celebrations incorporate elements of both traditions.
Jack o’ Lanterns come from an Irish legend about a man named Jack who tricked the devil and was banned entry from both heaven and hell. Doomed to wander the earth, Jack is said to roam with his lantern, leading people away from their paths. The first Jack o’ Lanterns were carved from turnips, beets, and potatoes. After Irish settlers arrived in North America, they continued the tradition with native North American pumpkins.
Speaking of Jack o’ Lanterns, the Guinness World Records for the greatest number of lit Jack o’ Lanterns on display is held by the City of Keene, New Hampshire. In 2013, the city lit a whopping 30, 581 Jack o’ Lanterns—that’s a lot of post- Halloween pumpkin pie!
Pumpkin pie, you say? The world record for biggest pumpkin is held by Steve Geddes of Boscawen, New Hampshire (un-officially the most pumpkin-loving state in the union?) with a pumpkin weighing in at a hefty 2,528 pounds.
While we’re on the topic of pumpkins, did you know that figures from the US Department of Agriculture show that Illinois produces 5x more pumpkins than any other state in the union? That’s 500 million pounds of pumpkin every year, in case you were feeling hungry.
Halloween is among North America’s most successful commercial holidays, pulling in an estimated $9 billion annually. Just think of all the candy corn that could buy!
The Halloween classic candy corn was created in the 1880’s by the Goelitz Confectionery Company. Formerly called “Chicken Feed,” the original packaging featured a rooster on the box, in an appeal to America’s agricultural roots. The recipe for the confection has remained largely unchanged since the 1880’s. According to the National Confectioner’s Association, 35 million pounds (that’s roughly 9 billion pieces of candy corn!) are produced every year. Despite that figure, as of 2019, candy corn was ranked as the #1 “Worst Halloween Candy” by Candystore.com. We’ll take it off your hands, candy corn-haters! Love the look, but not the treat? Give yourself a candy corn nail look with this step-by-step tutorial!
In the 1978 horror classic Halloween, the mask worn by Michael Myers is a William Shatner mask spray painted white with the eye holes re-shaped.
Harry Houdini—perhaps the world’s most famous magician, escape artist, and illusionist—died on Halloween in 1926. Before his death, Houdini promised his wife Bess that if there were a way to communicate from the afterlife, he would send her the coded message, “Rosabelle believe,” after their favorite song. For ten years following Houdini’s death, Bess held a Halloween séance, in hopes of hearing from her dearly departed.
Looking for more Halloween treats? Download our printable Halloween Mad Libs below, and treat your co-workers and clients to some silly, spooky fun!
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Header Image: @mariekazalia via Twenty20
Interior Image: Kitera Dent via Vagaro