Any Excuse to Eat Candy . . . With a Little History Thrown In

I may be in my fifties now, but I’ve still got a soft spot for Halloween, even though I don’t dress up anymore, or have kids to take trick or treating. Maybe it’s because I’ve always naturally gravitated to the strange and mysterious, so I love the spooky tingles associated with the holiday. Or that it gives supposedly mature adults an excuse to let their inner kid out for a day. Perhaps it’s the whisper of old memories, traipsing under a cool night sky with my friends and feeling, for a few hours at least, like anything could happen, if we only believed . . . or the smile I still get at recalling some of my mom’s homemade costumes (hippie, anyone? Complete with a leopard-print headband?)

Of course, some people have complaints about the day, some of them quite understandable. But one I’ve never understood is that about stores stocking their Halloween wares while it’s technically still summer. I mean, come on, folks – can any excuse to eat candy ever come too early?

And while you’re munching on yours, enjoy these 31 fun facts you might not have known about the holiday . . .

English: Advertisement for Brach's candies

(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

  1. The word “Halloween” comes from “Hallowmas,” a shortening of “Hallows Mass,” the feast celebrating All Saints Day.
  2. Orange and black are the holiday’s traditional colors because they represent, respectively, harvest and death.
  3. Some of the first jack o’lanterns are believed to have been made from turnips.
  4. The term “jack o’lantern” was originally a name for ignis fatuus, or “foolish fire,” the strange light that sometimes flickers over marshes and swamps. It was also a nickname for night watchmen (e.g., a man with a lantern, or “Jack of the Lantern.”).
  5. Keene, NH holds the current world record for most lighted jack o’lanterns at one time – 30,581.
  6. The record for heaviest pumpkin belongs to Swiss gardener Beni Meier, who had to use a special crane to transport his 2,096.6-pound behemoth in September 2014.
  7. The record for fastest pumpkin carving, at 16.47 seconds, was earned by Stephen Clarke in New York City on October 31, 2013.
  8. Dating to pagan times, Halloween is one of the oldest celebrations in the world.
  9. It is also the second most commercially successful holiday in America (Christmas is first).
  10. As if that wasn’t enough, it’s the country’s third biggest party day, right after New Year’s and Super Bowl Sunday.
  11. The origins of trick-or-treating have been variously attributed to costumes made of animal skins to scare away phantoms; dressing as malevolent creatures and performing antics in exchange for food and drink; and visits by the poor to wealthy homes where they would receive pastries called “soul cakes” in exchange for a promise to pray for the souls of the family’s deceased relatives.
  12. Samhainophobia is an intense fear of Halloween.
  13. Fears of poisoned Halloween candy are almost entirely unfounded. Only two cases are known, both involving relatives and one of which was designed to cover up an accidental heroin ingestion.
  14. At least five Massachusetts towns banned trick-or-treating in 1962 due to safety concerns.
  15. Candy makers have been credited with lobbying for Daylight Savings Time to simultaneously increase candy sales and child safety. The industry disputes this claim.
  16. The current most popular Halloween candy is Reese’s peanut butter cups.
  17. More than twice as much chocolate is sold for Halloween as for Valentine’s Day.
  18. Dark and milk chocolates can last up to two years if stored in a dry, odor-free spot. Hard candy can last up to a year; unopened candy corn, up to nine months.
  19. October 30 is National Candy Corn Day.
  20. The 1978 movie Halloween was made on such a tight budget that Michael Meyers’ original face mask was one of Star Trek‘s William Shatner, spray-painted with teased hair and reshaped eye holes. Shatner is said to have been flattered.
  21. The custom of bobbing for apples is thought to have originated in a Roman harvest festival honoring Pomona, goddess of fruit trees. The first unmarried youth to bite into an apple would be the next one allowed to marry.
  22. Scottish girls once believed they could see images of their future husband by hanging wet sheets in front of the fire on Halloween.
  23. Many countries, such as France and Australia, regard Halloween as an unwanted and overly commercial American influence.
  24. While the image of a full moon is a Halloween staple, it’s also quite rare on the holiday. You’ll have to wait until 2020 for the next one.
  25. You can really get into the holiday spirit in these oddly-named towns: Frankenstein, Missouri; Scary, West Virginia; Spook City, Colorado; and Candy Town, Ohio.
  26. In Hollywood, there’s a $1,000 fine for using Silly String on Halloween.
  27. Hollywood celebrities born on Halloween include Michael Landon, John Candy, Dale Evans and Lee Grant.
  28. Barmbrack, a yeast bread made with dried fruit that has been soaked in hot tea, is a traditional Halloween food in Ireland.
  29. There’s a gene in fruit flies known as the halloween gene.
  30. The top three songs played on Halloween are “Thriller,” “Monster Mash” and the theme from Ghostbusters.
  31. More cars are stolen on Halloween than any other holiday.

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Any Excuse to Eat Candy . . . With a Little History Thrown In

  1. Pingback: Halloween, 2014 | monsterinthesuburbs.com

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