Bizarre Halloween Facts You Didn't Know You Needed to Know

Emily Reily 30 Oct 2018

There are so many weird traditions and spooky superstitions that crop up every Halloween. Black cats, Jack-o'-lanterns and horse skulls are just a few images that have stuck with All Hallows' Eve over the decades. Here are a few strange facts about Halloween you may not know.

Apparently, "treating" was a thing when the holiday first caught steam

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"Guising" was the term first used to describe Halloween. Children would perform actual tricks at neighbors' homes while dressed in costume, or "disguise." Kids might ask for money, cake or fruit while dancing or performing songs, and be rewarded handsomely. These days, at least in America, the "trick" part of Halloween is employed by teens when they toilet-paper your house under cover of darkness.

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Horse skulls, anyone?

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Wanna wear a horse skull for Halloween? If you celebrated the Celtic holiday Samhain, you might do that very thing. In ancient times, wearing animal heads and skins in what is now Germany and France was a way to connect to dead spirits. Those a little more tenderhearted could just wear a wooden head and call it a day.

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Jack-O'-Lanterns were based on one especially rotten, lazy dude

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The traditional Jack-o'-lantern wasn't the smiley pumpkin with triangle eyes and goofy mouth. The tale of Stingy Jack is purported to be the forefather of today's Halloween pumpkins. Stingy Jack, who also went by the name of Drunk Jack, Flaky Jack and Jack the Smith was supposed to be the lazy no-do-gooder of towns in Ireland. Stingy Jack caught the eye of Satan who set out to find him. Stingy Jack managed to evade Satan's grasp through trickery, eventually reaching a deal with Satan that he could never take his soul. But when Stingy Jack died, God couldn't take him because he was so rotten, and Satan couldn't take him either. As a result, Jack is doomed to wander the earth as an ember inside decorated pumpkins.

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Wear your spookiest costume for... Cabbage Night?

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In some towns in America, Halloween was known as Cabbage Night. This was a Scottish tradition, a sort of fortune-telling game, where girls would use stumps of the leafy vegetable to divulge information about the man they might marry in the future. In Framingham, Massachusetts, teens skipped all the fortune-telling and just lobbed cabbages at people's houses. In fact, boys in the 18th and 19th century tossed around not just cabbages, but other rotten root vegetables and corn.

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Shelters weren't adopting out black cats for fear they'd be sacrificed

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It's great to be able to adopt a black cat from a shelter. It's not okay to adopt one to be sacrificed. Apparently this was a thing, and animal shelters would specifically put the kibosh on adopting black cats around Halloween for fears it might be killed. But it turns out most people who adopt cats just like cats. Black cats get lucky again!

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Michael Meyers' mask was originally a William Shatner mask

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Before the first "Halloween" movie was released, money was tight. So they had to grab the cheapest one they could find -- which happened to be a mask of William Shatner from his Star Trek days. The most iconic images of Michael Meyers ended up being from everyone's favorite captain of the USS Enterprise. Go figure.

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Legendary Magician Harry Houdini died on Halloween

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The iconic daredevil magician Harry Houdini was known for getting out of lots of scrapes in his time -- from straitjackets, hand cuffs, from underwater cells, being buried alive, you name it. But a few gut punches was what killed him in the end. A few university students at a Montreal theatre dressing room gave Houdini "some very hammer-like blows below the belt." This led to a ruptured appendix and peritonitis, which later killed Houdini.

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Hang some wet sheets, see your future husband

Why was Halloween a prime time for women to choose their future husband? It's not clear, but for some reason, girls in Scotland would hang wet sheets in front of the fire in hopes of seeing their fiance's image. Girls also thought if they walked downstairs at midnight on Halloween, while looking at mirrors, they'd see their boyfriend's face. It's more likely they had a better chance of falling down the stairs.

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