8 Fun Facts You Didn't Know About Halloween

by Lindsay Shapka in ,

1. Did you know that Halloween is actually an Irish holiday? It comes from an ancient festival called Samhain that marks the day when the undead are thought to walk among the living. It also marks the end of long, sunny days and the beginning of the darker half of the year. The holiday was brought to North America by Irish immigrants in the 1840s. 

2. According to Celtic legend, the colors of Halloween — orange and black — are the colors of death and decay.  

3. Carving pumpkins into jack-o'-lanterns only started in North America where they are native to the land. In Ireland turnips, beets, and potatoes were carved into ghoulish faces. 

4. The word "witch" comes from an Old English word meaning "wise woman." Witches were actually highly respected at the time of the original festival and usually held their main meetings on Halloween night. 

5. By medieval times, witches became something to fear, and owls — a popular Halloween image — were thought to be witches in disguise. Hearing an owl's hoot on Halloween night would mean that someone was going to die. 

6. Trick-or-treating evolved from the Celtic tradition of putting out treats to placate the undead that wandered the streets during Samhain. 

7. Bobbing for apples used to be a fertility game. Celts believed that the pentagram represented fertility and when an apple is cut in half, the seeds form a pentagram-like shape. Couples would bob for apples together on Halloween night and if they caught one, it was thought that they would soon have a child. 

8. One of the most famous and mysterious men in the world — Harry Houdini — died in 1926 on Halloween night.