Halloween, or All Hallows' Eve as it is also known, is a highly anticipated holiday which falls annually on October 31st. Synonymous with all things scary, supernatural and of course sweet and chocolaty, Halloween is celebrated by hundreds of thousands of people around the world. But how much do you really know about Halloween? It's time to test your trivia with 13 fascinating facts about the spookiest holiday of the year!
Halloween's Irish origins
Unbeknown to many, Halloween is deeply rooted in Irish heritage. The ancient Celtic festival Samhain can be traced back 2000 years and is said to be the 'forefather' of Halloween. Samhain is a Gaelic word meaning 'end of summer' and is symbolic of the beginning of the dark, winter season. Festivities include the harvesting of fruits, vegetables and crops. Irish folklore dictates that during Samhain, spirits would pass through from the Otherworld, which has most likely inspired the haunting and ethereal quality of the Halloween we celebrate today.
Pumpkins are an iconic symbol of Halloween and harvest time. Millions are sold per year specifically for the Halloween festivities. The largest pumpkin ever recorded is thought to be a 2,363 pound specimen grown by Joel Holland in October of this year. Holland required a commercial forklift to get the gigantic pumpkin off the ground and to the 44th World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off, where unsurprisingly he won first place!
A moniker from the Christian faith
Nowadays, Halloween is without a doubt one of the most commercialized festivals of the Western world. But it hasn't always been about costumes and candy. In fact its name is linked to Christianity. The term 'Halloween' is derived from 'All Hallows Eve', the name given to the day which falls before All Saints Day. All Saints Day was always an important date of the Christian calendar, honoring all the saints who don't have a festival day of their own. Meanwhile All Hallows Day would be spent praying, fasting and preparing for the festivities of the following day.
Once in a blue moon
Full moons are synonymous with paranormal activity, werewolves and spooky goings-on, so it may come as a surprise to you that it is actually very rare for a full moon to fall on Halloween. This being said, the next full moon on Halloween is predicted to occur in the year 2020, so be sure not to miss out!
Trick or Treat
No one really knows when or where the phrase 'Trick or Treat' was first coined. Although the iconic 1966 Charlie Brown episode 'It's the Great Pumpkin' confirmed trick or treating to be the ultimate Halloween activity - even though poor Charlie got a rock instead of candy. Old British tradition defines 'Trick or Treat' in many ways; guising, mumming and souling to name but a few. Back then costume-clad children would visit nearby houses and have to perform a trick (tell a joke or sing a song) before receiving a treat, which would have been fruit, nuts or some pennies. Nothing like the handfuls of sweets, chocolate and candy on offer today!