Well, here it is that time of year again. There’s a chill in the night air, trees are aflame with leaves brilliantly colored in their death throes, and football season is in full swing. And that means that the annual fright-fest called Halloween is only days away.
For most Americans that’s welcome news. Because Halloween, you might be surprised to learn, is the third most popular holiday among American adults. Only Christmas and Thanksgiving are more popular, according to a 2011 Harris poll.
Did you know that Halloween is that popular? Here are nine additional facts about Halloween that you might not have known:
- The World’s Oldest Holiday: The holiday that we call Halloween has been around for a very long time. More than 6,000 years! Though it’s taken many different forms, and been celebrated in many different ways, Halloween is thought to have originated somewhere around 4,000 B.C.
- A Bonanza for Retailers: If you were to guess that the most lucrative holiday for retailers is Christmas, you’d be correct. But if you were asked to name the second most lucrative holiday, would you guess Halloween? If not, you’d be wrong. Because Halloween generates about $6 billion per year in revenue for retailers, making it second only to Christmas as an income-generating machine for retailers.
- Pumpkins Are a Poor Man’s Substitute for Turnips: Jack-O-Lanterns are made from pumpkins, right? In fact, pumpkins are a long-established symbol of Halloween, along with witches, ghosts and black cats. But it wasn’t always so. In the U.K, Jack-O-Lanterns have traditionally been made from turnips. But many early American immigrants couldn’t afford turnips for Halloween celebrations, and had to settle instead for pumpkins, which were considerably more affordable.
- Speaking of Jack-O-Lanterns: Though Jack-O-Lanterns today are just a fun way to help celebrate Halloween, they once served a much more serious purpose. It was once thought that placing a Jack-O-Lantern outside your home on All-Hallow’s Eve would help to ward away the evil spirits that were on the prowl.
- Be Careful Out There: A sad fact: children are twice as likely to be injured or killed in a car/pedestrian accident on Halloween night. (Compared statistically to all other nights of the year.)
- Want to See a Witch? According to Halloween tradition, if you wear your clothes inside-out and walk backwards at midnight on Halloween, you’re likely to see a witch. Dare you to try it!
- Hiding in Plain Sight: The tradition of dressing up as ghosts and ghoulies on Halloween is thought to have originated with the ancient Celts. They believed that dressing up as demons and spirits was the best way to escape the attention of real demons and spirits wandering the streets on Halloween (which they called Samhain).
- The Most Popular Candy: The most popular treat for trick-or-treaters? Snickers candy bars. Of course!
- Don’t be Silly in Hollywood: Lots of people like to have fun with Silly String on Halloween. But the city of Hollywood, California has apparently had quite enough of that silliness. If you’re caught using or possessing Silly String on Halloween (and only on Halloween, apparently), you’re liable to be slapped with a fine of up to $1,000, or sentenced to as much as six months in jail.
Happy Halloween from your friends at TLC Inc!