11 Bits of Halloween Costume Trivia, Pumpkin Facts, and Other History

Did you know the very first jack-o'-lanterns were made from carved turnips?

As Halloween approaches, we've been planning our DIY Halloween costumes and looking forward to the candy corn we'll eat while we pass out candy bars to trick-or-treaters. We started wondering about some of the most popular Halloween traditions—like why we carve faces into pumpkins or go door-to-door asking our neighbors for candy.

The Halloween holiday is a combination of a number of different cultural celebrations, so our traditions come from all over the world. Brush up on your Halloween costume trivia, history, and other interesting facts about Halloween.

Outdoor Halloween decor with crows and carved pumpkins
Adam Albright
01 of 11

Halloween Comes from an Ancient Celtic Festival

The origins of Halloween can be traced all the way back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celtic people celebrated their new year on November 1 by lighting bonfires, dressing in costumes, and telling fortunes. This celebratory practice is likely why we light candles inside pumpkins and don costumes for modern-day Halloween celebrations.

02 of 11

Jack-o-Lanterns Originated in Ireland

t wouldn't be Halloween without carving a funny face into a pumpkin, but have you ever stopped to wonder why we carve jack-o'-lanterns? It turns out that this tradition can be credited to the Irish myth of Stingy Jack. He was an Irishman who liked to play tricks on people (this is also likely where the phrase 'trick or treat' comes from). When Jack died, his spirit was made to pay for the tricks he played on people: He was forced to roam the earth as a ghost who carried a carved turnip as a lantern.

03 of 11

Kids Used to Carve Turnips, Beets, and Potatoes

Speaking of turnips, the very first jack-o'-lanterns were actually made from carved turnips, beets, and potatoes. Modern carved pumpkins weren't part of Halloween tradition until Irish immigrants came to America in the 1800s and discovered pumpkins were far easier to carve.

04 of 11

October 30 is National Candy Corn Day

Of course, the main event happens on October 31. Still, there's plenty of reason to celebrate on Halloween Eve, too: October 30 is National Candy Corn Day! More than 35 million pounds of candy corn are produced yearly, although it's not always the most popular Halloween candy.

05 of 11

Halloween Is the Second Most Expensive Holiday in the U.S.

It's estimated that Americans spend approximately $9 billion on Halloween each year, meaning the holiday's expense is second only to Christmas. Most of that money is spent on costumes, pumpkins, and bags of trick-or-treat candy.

06 of 11

The Heaviest Pumpkin Ever Recorded Weighed 2,528 Pounds

While picking the biggest pumpkin at the pumpkin patch is a fun fall tradition, we're pretty sure no one carried this pumpkin out of the patch. The largest pumpkin ever recorded was grown in Deerfield, New Hampshire, and weighed a whopping 2,528 pounds.

07 of 11

Finding True Love was Once a Halloween Tradition

In the early 1800s, young women believed they could find out the name of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple peelings, and mirrors. This practice later morphed into the traditional "trick-or-treat" tradition we know and love today that involves more mainstream "tricks" like jokes or magic tricks.

08 of 11

'Hocus Pocus' Is the Most Popular Halloween Movie

While scary movies are typically associated with Halloween, a horror movie isn't the most popular film to watch during the season. It doesn't truly feel like Halloween until we've watched Hocus Pocus at least twice, so it's no surprise that it's the most popular Halloween movie. Before this year's viewing, brush up on these fun facts about the film.

09 of 11

Princesses Are The Most Popular Halloween Costume

In Halloween costume trivia, the National Retail Federation reported that princess costumes were 8% of costumes purchased in 2019, the most popular choice. That's a lot of mini Annas and Elsas! The most popular adult costume was a witch, and the most-purchased pet costumes were pumpkins and hot dogs.

10 of 11

The Largest Jack-o'-Lantern Display Had More Than 30,500 Pumpkins

In 2013, the city of Keene, New Hampshire, broke the record for the largest display of Jack-o'-Lanterns with a collection of 30,581 carved pumpkins. That's a lot of glowing pumpkins lighting up the streets!

11 of 11

Candy Corn Was Originally Called Chicken Feed

Candy corn has been around since the 1880s, but it wasn't a popular treat originally—maybe because it was called 'Chicken Feed.' Candy corn is made to look like corn kernels, which were primarily eaten by chickens then. However, it became increasingly popular once the candy was rebranded as Candy Corn in the 1950s.

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