Nowadays Halloween is all about dressing up and eating candy, but years ago the holiday had quite an important purpose. (That’s not to say that candy and costumes aren’t great…!) People used to believe that celebrating Halloween – which was called Samhain – would help keep ghosts from roaming the earth! Here are 11 facts about the day.
Halloween is thought to have started around 4000 B.C., which means it's been around for over 6,000 years.
It's believed to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to keep the real spirits roaming from recognizing them.
Trick-or-treating evolved from the ancient Celtic tradition of putting out treats and food to appease spirits who roamed the streets at Samhain.
In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III decided that November 1 would be a time to honor all saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints’ Day, included some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween.
Over time, Halloween evolved into a non-religious, community-based event characterized by child-friendly activities such as trick-or-treating.
The first Jack O’Lanterns were actually made from turnips.
The owl is a popular Halloween image. In Medieval Europe, people thought owls were witches. And hearing an owl's call meant someone was about to die.
Scarecrows, a popular Halloween symbol, stand for the ancient agricultural roots of the holiday.
Halloween is the second highest grossing commercial holiday after Christmas.
Both Salem, Massachusetts, and Anoka, Minnesota, are the self-proclaimed Halloween capitals of the world.
The Village Halloween parade in New York City is the largest Halloween parade in the U.S. The parade includes 50,000 participants and draws over 2 million spectators.