7 Things You Never Knew About Halloween
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7 Things You Never Knew About Halloween

Halloween is coming... better hide your silly string and stock up on potatoes!

7 Things You Never Knew About Halloween
Steve Isaacs

Halloween is one of America's favorite holidays. There's something so wonderfully fun about dressing up. But, like every other holiday, Halloween has a wacky and wild history. Here are the weirdest and craziest things you never knew about Halloween!

1. Is that a... potato?

Everyone loves carving pumpkins, but did you know that in the earlier days of Halloween people carved potatoes (and turnips) instead of the now well-loved pumpkin? The whole phenomenon can be blamed on the mythical character of Stingy Jack. Back in the day, roughly 500 years ago, in Ireland there lived a drunkard named Stingy Jack. He liked to cause as many extra issues as he could, so he often bartered with the devil, even trapping him twice! When Jack freed the devil they made an agreement; Jack would never trap him again, and the Devil would not banish Jack to Hell when he died. Yet, when Jack died he discovered that because of all the sins he'd committed in his life he was not allowed into Heaven either. Instead, he was given a single burning ember and left to roam the Earth for eternity. Jack carried that ember in a makeshift lantern, built from a hollowed out turnip. Thus, the Jack-O-Lantern was born. To ward off Jack's evil spirit people began carving turnips and potatoes (and then eventually pumpkins) and displaying them outside their homes.

2. It isn't just the sugar making kids act out.

Studies have shown that children in costumes, who are allowed to mill about the streets, actually act out more than they normally do. Researchers believe this is due to a specific type of group-think, where members of a group lose their individuality, and also gain anonymity, which then causes them to feel more comfortable acting out. One study, in particular, found that in a group of 1,300 children those who were in costumes and were left with no responsibility participated in more theft than the other groups of children. Another researcher found that children wearing costumes were more likely to take more Halloween candy than allowed if they believed there was no parental supervision. So, watch those kiddos closely because group-think might be turning them into little demons.

3. Thimble got your tongue?

In colonial America it was traditional to bake Halloween cakes and fill them with all kinds of unsavory treats. If you were the lucky person who bit into a thimble, it meant you were destined to have bad luck with the opposite sex.

4. Candy and capitalism.

It's a well known fact that Halloween is every candy company's favorite holiday, but did you know that in the 1985 hearings on Daylight Savings companies actually helped lobby to extend the extra hour into November? It was theorized that if children had an extra hour of light in which to trick-or-treat during, then adults would have to purchase more candy to keep their supplies stocked throughout the evening.It's hard to imagine a world where people could possibly spend more on candy than they do now, which hovers about 2 billion dollars annually, but that was certainly the goal in this specific lobbying task. Rumor has it that during the hearings the candy industry banded together and placed candy pumpkins on each legislators seat, though this account is highly disputed by the companies themselves.

5. The infamous Silly String struggle of 2004.

Currently, a city ordinance stands in Hollywood decreeing that the use of Silly String in the city limits on Halloween is subject to a $1,000 fine. Back in the good ol' days bored folks wandering the streets of Hollywood, particularly Hollywood Boulevard, would be confronted by illegal vendors who would sell discount Silly String. This, of course, riled up the crowd and led to a lot of property damage via Silly String. Ever since the Halloween of 2004 it's been illegal to use the popular party toy near Hollywood Boulevard.

6. If you couldn't break down with a sweet dance move, you couldn't get candy either...

In the Middle Ages, when Halloween was still known as All Hallows Eve, it was customary to pray, dance or sing in order to get your treat. That's definitely much more work than I ever put in while trick-or-treating!

7. In Illinois you may be asked to show an I.D...

In Belleville, a small town of 35,000 people, if you're over the age of 12 you may be fined up to $100 for trick-or-treating overage! Belleville is just the latest in a handful of Illinois cities that have begun enforcing this rule, after elderly people and parents were complaining about teenagers showing up to their doors for candy. Sheesh, tough crowd!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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