Pumpkin carved by Mattie and Kristin…
With Halloween only a day away, these interesting facts should feed the frenzy of Americans who will spend $6.9 billion this year on this holiday. I don’t particularly care for being scared out of my wits, but I love carving pumpkins and eating candy, so there’s that.
Here are 20 interesting things about, or related to, Halloween.
1. Halloween, celebrated October 31st, is one of the world’s oldest holidays. While it is most popular in North America, it is celebrated around the globe.
2. Americans purchase nearly 600 million pounds of candy a year for Halloween. This is the equivalent of 16 billion fun size Snickers bars or 158 trillion individual Candy Corns.
3. According to a recent survey conducted by The National Confectioners’ Association (NCA), chocolate is the favorite Halloween candy for 72 percent of Americans.
4. Halloween candy sales average about 2 billion dollars annually in the United States.
5. A generous 74 percent of households will pass out candy to trick-or-treaters this year, and 72 percent of those intend to give 2-3 pieces per trick-or-treater.
6. The largest pumpkin ever measured was grown by lumber salesman Tim Mathison. It weighed in at 2,032 pounds and took 105 days to grow in his backyard.
7. The fastest time to carve one ton of pumpkins is 3 hours 33 minutes 49 seconds, and was achieved by Stephen Clarke at Harrah’s Casino Resort, Atlantic City, NJ on October 29, 2008.See the video here.
8. Using pumpkins as jack-o’-lanterns is a Celtic custom intended to welcome home the spirits of deceased ancestors while simultaneously warding off evil spirits, and the restless soul of “Stingy Jack”.
9. “Stingy Jack”, as the Irish myth goes, made it a habit of playing tricks on the Devil. Once Jack died, God didn’t want him in heaven and the devil, put off by his tricks, would not claim his soul either–sending him off to roam the earth at night with only a burning coal to light the way. “Stingy Jack” put that coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the earth every since.
10. According to 24/7 Wall St., who used data from market research firm, Information Resources, Inc., Hershey’s Company’s Reese’s took the spot as the #1 Halloween candy in 2012 with sales of just under $510 million. M&M’s was #2 with $500.82 million, and Snickers was #3 at $456.91 million.
11. Halloween is the 2nd most commercially successful holiday, with Christmas being the first.
12. Bobbing for apples is thought to have originated from the Roman harvest festival that honored Pomona, the goddess of fruit trees. Young unmarried people would bob for apples floating in water or hanging from a string, and the first to bite into the apple would be the next one allowed to marry.
13. The movie, “Halloween” (1978), was made in only 21 days on a very tight budget. They used the cheapest mask they could find for the Michael Meyers character, which turned out to be a William Shatner Star Trek mask. They spray-painted the mask, teased the hair, and reshaped the eye holes.
14. Samhainophobia is the fear of Halloween.
15. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2013 Top Costumes Survey, adults and kids are both choosing more traditional costumes this year. More than 5 million adults plan to dress as a witch, and 2.9 million as a Batman character. Children want to be princesses (3.8 million), an animal (2.8 million), or a Batman character (2.5 million).
16. Americans are expected to spend $2.6 billion on Halloween costumes, spending $1 billion on children’s costumes, $1.2 billion on adult costumes, and $330 million on pet costumes.
17. The average person will spend $75 on Halloween candy, costumes and decorations, bringing total spending to $6.9 billion; this represents an increase of nearly $30 since 2005.
18. The most lit jack-o’-lanterns on display at once is 30,581, and was achieved by the City of Keene, New Hampshire, USA, on October 19, 2013.
19. The famous magician Harry Houdini (1874-1926) died on Halloween night.
20. Many of our halloween superstitions have roots in the Middle Ages–for instance, concerns about black cats came from a time when many people believed witches avoided detection by turning into black cats.