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#FunFactFriday – OctoberThe nation is currently rejoicing at the thought of October being but a couple of days away. My fellow Arizonans are especially excited because this upcoming month marks the official end to the incredibly hot weather we’ve all barely tolerated this summer.

In addition to Fall weather, Halloween, college football, your favorite cardigan and the excessive consumption of #PSLs (more than 200 million over the last 11 years), a much-awaited Friday the 13th (which also happens to be Abbie Fink’s birthday) will take place this October. It’s no wonder this month is one of the nation’s favorites!

I found some interesting facts that might just make you explode from excitement for this wondrous holiday. You’ve been warned.

  1. In order to get your treat, you originally had to dance for it. I kid you not. The tradition of trick-or-treating has been traced back to the European practice of “guysing,” in which the costume wearers would go door-to-door and perform choreographed skits in order to get a treat.
  2. Halloween is the most Irish holiday of them all. But what about St. Patrick’s Day you ask? Halloween’s origins have actually been traced back to a Celtic festival for the dead called “Samhain” (which helps explain why samhainophobia is the technical term for the fear of Halloween). The Celts believed that ghosts roamed the night during this holiday so they would dress in costume and set treats out to appease them. The Celts also invented the jack-o’-lantern! As for St. Patrick’s Day, it was actually invented in America by Irish-Americans. So it’s not all that Irish (although I still make a valiant effort to celebrate it each and every year).
  3. The original jack-o’-lanterns were not made out of pumpkins. The Irish carved scary faces into turnips, beets and potatoes to scare away a fabled character, Stingy Jack, away at night. And who is Stingy Jack? Find out here.
  4. Halloween used to be a great day to find your soulmate. In some parts of Ireland, people celebrated Halloween by playing romantic fortune-telling games, which predicted who they’d marry and when. Back in the day, Halloween and Valentine’s Day were pretty much the only two holidays where young people could mingle with the opposite sex so they were considered good days to scope out a mate.
  5. In some American towns, Halloween goes by another name: “Cabbage Night.” This sort of ties in together with the previous fact. The name came from a Scottish fortune-telling game where girls used cabbage stumps to predict information about their future husbands. And then in some towns, like Framingham, Mass., the kids just skipped the game and opted for throwing cabbage and other rotting vegetables and neighbors’ houses.
  6. Kids are proven to become more “evil” during Halloween, a fact that just cracks me up. According to one study, dressing kids up in a costume and incentivizing them with candy has been shown to lead to “deindividuation.” Another study found that unsupervised, costumed children in groups were far more likely to steal candy and money than both non-costumed kids and children not in a group.
  7. The biggest pumpkin ever measure was 836 lbs. This pumpkin, grown by Norm Craven, set the world record in 1993.
  8. Speaking of big pumpkins, “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” first aired on Oct. 27, 1966. In addition to being one of the best fall animated specials ever, some scholars believe the myth of the Great Pumpkin to be true. After airing the special, Charles Schulz (the cartoonist who created the Peanuts strip) received a number of letters from academics insisting that the Great Pumpkin story must be based on something. We may never know!

There you have it! Now when people start talking about what they’re going to be for Halloween this year (and you know they will), you can dish out some of these interesting facts about the second highest-grossing commercial holiday after Christmas. You can also talk about how you hope SNL puts together another “David S. Pumpkins” skit this October! I know I do.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Breanne Krager
Breanne Krager
A former HMA Public Relations employee.

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