These Halloween facts will get you into the spooky holiday spirit. The history of October 31 and all the holiday’s traditions may surprise those who think of Halloween as just costumes and candy. Learn about the holiday's ancient Irish roots and current practices below.
- Celtic Origins Halloween takes place every year on October 31 because this was the last day of the Celtic calendar long ago. Their New Year’s was called Samhain. Celts believed that on this particular night, ghosts from the past haunted earth, and masks were used by the Irish as protection from these spirits.
- Religious Origins After Ireland was converted to Christianity, Saimhain turned into All Hallow’s Eve to celebrate the night before All Saint’s Day, which was an important religious holiday. The word “Halloween” was eventually produced from All Hallow’s Eve.
- Orange and Black Halloween colors aren’t orange and black by coincidence. Orange represents the Fall season's changing of leaves, and black represents the darker elements of ghosts and death.
- Jack O’Lanterns Have you ever wondered why we carve pumpkins every Halloween? Jack O’Lanterns began in Ireland as a way to ward off evil spirits on All Hallow’s Eve. Originally, however, the Irish used turnips and potatoes as their lanterns. When the Irish migrated to America, pumpkins became used in the tradition instead.
- Halloween Costumes One of the most popular costume choices for both children and adults is a witch. Adults also have a fondness for dressing as pirates and vampires, which were the top U.S. costume choices from 2009. Wondering what to dress your pet as? Pumpkins and devils were the most popular choices from 2009.
- Most Popular Candy Wondering which type of candy to hand out, so you can avoid any nasty house eggings? Snickers candy bars were the most popular treat in 2009.
- Halloween Movies The classic '70s movie, "Halloween," is one of the best movies to watch around Halloween time. Other popular horror movies for that time of year include "A Nightmare on Elm Street," "Poltergeist," and "Trick 'r Treat."
- Under a Full Moon There will be no real werewolves roaming the streets on Halloween for quite a few more years. The next completely full moon on Halloween won't be seen until October 31 of 2020.
- Trick or Treat An estimated 36 million trick or treaters went door to door for Halloween in 2009. The most common ages for trick or treating are between five and thirteen, but that won't stop you from seeing a few adults begging for candy each year.
- Travel Popular Halloween destination sites around the U.S. are Transylvania County and Cape Fear in North Carolina, as well as Skull Creek, Nebraska and Tombstone, Arizona. You don't need to necessarily travel far and wide for Halloween, however; just set up a Haunted House party at your own place.