Quick read: Halloween fun facts

  • A secular holiday celebrating vestiges of traditional harvest festival celebrations
  • Samhainophobia is the fear of Halloween
  • Ireland is the birthplace of Halloween
  • Salem, Massachusetts and Anoka, Minnesota “Halloween capital”
  • In France and Australia, Halloween is an unwanted holiday
  • Halloween is also called All Hallows Eve, Witches Night, Lamswool, Snap-Apple Night, Samhaim and Summer’s Eve
  • Ancient Celtic festival: believed ghosts returned to Earth
  • Treat-or-treating, first mentioned in print in 1927 in Canada
  • Jack O’ Lanterns were first made of turnips in 1663

Old Irish folktale:

Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.

Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with ever since.