Halloween is always a special time of year. The days are getting shorter, and school has started. Children are restless waiting for the holiday break around Christmas. October 31st is a perfect middle area between the beginning of school and the holiday break. Children don costumes and traverse their neighborhoods in search of sweet treats.
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The day has a storied past that dates back thousands of years, While some of the tales are not verifiable, many of the origins of All Hallow’s Eve (Halloween) are well documented.
1. Halloween Is Older Than Dirt!
Well, maybe not dirt, but it is over 2,000 years old. This holiday was originally celebrated in Celtic regions and was named Samhain (pronounced SOW-ahn). The meaning of the word is “summer’s end,” and it signifies the last day of the fall harvest. Other beliefs centered around Halloween include that the veil between the world of the living and the dead is thinner during Samhain.
2. Bonfires And Costumes Help Ward Off Unfriendly Spirits
If you thought people held bonfires on Halloween just for warmth, you might be partially correct. The origins of the bonfire celebration began as a way to ward off spirits. The light from the fires served to scare away spirits during the time when the veil between worlds was thought to be thinnest. In addition to fires, people began wearing costumes for the same reason. Our current costume traditions date back to those first Celtic nights when costumes were designed to scare away ghosts. I’m guessing the homemade costumes back then were more frightening than our superheroes and Care Bears!
3. Pumpkin Carving Was Not Just For Decoration
Back when Halloween was in its infancy, no one carved pumpkins. The original jack-o’-lanterns were actually turnips. Just like costumes and bonfires, the jack-o’-lanterns were a way to dispel the evil spirits. When turnips became scarce, people grabbed pumpkins because they were plentiful. Since then, our pumpkin carving adventures have become an art form. There are yearly contests, including some really awesome designs and excellent craftsmanship.
4. Trick-or-Treating Was Put On Pause During WWII
Due to a shortage of sugar during World War II, candy production was put on hold. As a result, Halloween festivities were also halted temporarily. After rationing ended, candy makers were quick to capitalize on the idea of trick-or-treating. They advertised heavily to promote the holiday, and now kids everywhere partake in the collection of sweet goodies!
5. Illinois Is The Top Pumpkin-Producing State
The state of Illinois has more than 15,000 acres of prime pumpkin patches! Known as “The Land of Lincoln,” the state contributes over 500 million pounds of orange beautifulness every year.
6. Candy Corn Was Originally Called Chicken Feed
Some may argue that chicken feed is a more appropriate name for this Halloween staple. The tiny candies are shaped like corn kernels and are colored white, orange, and yellow. There seem to be two groups when it comes to this candy — you like them, or you hate them. There is no middle ground. The candy was first created in the 1880s. The creator, George Renninger, and the Goelitz Confectionery Company began selling the candy widely around the turn of the century.
7. You Will NOT Believe What The Michael Myers Mask Was Made From!
In 1978, movie-makers gave us the original “Halloween.” The coveralls and iconic white mask worn by Michael Myers throughout the series had a really unusual beginning. Because the first film was on a very tight budget, the prop crew cut a few corners. They grabbed a $2.00 mask off the shelf. The crew used spray paint to make it white and reshaped the eye holes. The mask was incredibly creepy and caused a lot of nightmares back in the day. But we haven’t told you the best part yet! In a past life, the first Michael Myers mask was a Star Trek Captain James Kirk mask!
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