By Michaela McKasson
1. Poisoned Candy
One of the most rampant Halloween myths is the idea that people poison the candy they are passing out on Halloween as a form of “Halloween Sadism.” This myth has been debunked time and time again; there are very few poisoned candy cases, and all of them have been unrelated to Halloween itself. In recent years, the poisoned candy myth has an developed a new twist- pot laced candy, a myth that is especially rampant in Denver, CO (Police advised parents watch out for edibles being put into kids candy bags).
2. Bloody Mary
The legend of Bloody Mary is obviously not true, despite what 13 year olds at slumber-parties might say, but it’s still an incredibly popular ritual, especially on Halloween. We all know the legend- you go into the bathroom with all the lights off and say Bloody Mary 3 times, maybe light a candle or spin in a circle, then the image of a girl appears in the mirror and tries to kill you. No one knows who Bloody Mary is, some people say she was a girl buried alive, some say she’s the daughter of King Henry VIII, some just say she’s a vengeful spirit. Some legends say she’ll hunt you through mirrors, even if you don’t do the ritual, so watch out.
3. “Halloween is an American holiday”
Halloween originated as a pagan holiday, Samhain, and was later converted into a Catholic holiday by missionaries to the Celtic peoples, and is now the eve of All Hallows Day, or All Saints Day, which is practiced November 1st.
The image of a witch flying on a broomstick across the moon is one that has been associated with Halloween forever. So why are witches associated with Halloween? The obvious answer is that it’s fun and creepy to say that magical old women are out there hunting down children and doing Satan’s bidding. But the association is actually linked to the “Crone,” a goddess praised during Samhain. Later on, when Christianity was introduced to Ireland, people who practiced Samhain were accused of witchcraft, which strengthened Halloween’s association with witches. While most people would agree that Halloween isn’t really a day for witchcraft, one article states that “modern witches” do gather on Halloween to celebrate the holiday.
5. Razor Blades In Apples
The “razor blade in apples and candy” myth has been going around since the 1960’s, similar to the fear of poisoned candy, but with one distinct difference- these happen much more frequently. There have been several cases of pins, needles, or razor blades being put in food or candy on halloween as “innocent” pranks, usually by children. These pranks never led up to death or serious injury, a few stitches at most.
While many people associate Halloween with Satanism, it has nothing to do with the devil at all.The myth that the devil has something to do with Halloween probably comes from priests claiming that those who practiced Samhain were doing the devil’s work. Furthermore, despite what horror movies would have you think, there is no evidence that there is an increased amount of Satanic worship on Halloween.
7. Trick or Treating
Many people think Trick or Treating has always been part of the Halloween experience, but it actually didn’t become a nation-wide tradition until the 1930s and 40s. Practical joking was always common on Halloween, but the jokes started to become more violent and destructive in the early 1900s; so, to appease the destructive children on Halloween, adults started to pass out candy on Halloween night. Let’s take a moment to thank the youth of the 1930s.
8. Black Cats
Cats, especially black ones, for whatever reason, have been associated with witches since the Middle Ages. Could this be because “witches” were often single, older women, whom, we all know, have a love for felines? Who’s to say? But we do know that the idea of black cats as unlucky is still strong today, leading many adoption centers and humane societies to be wary of anyone who wants to adopt a black cat near Halloween. While there are very few cases of black cat abuse around Halloween, it’s always better safe than sorry.
9. Headless Horseman
The Headless Horseman is a classic Halloween tale, one that has been adapted into many forms. One of the most famous tales comes from the Legends of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. The story goes that during the Revolutionary War, a German mercenary was decapitated by a cannonball and buried without his head. Every Halloween night, he emerges from the grave, riding around searching for his head, terrorising those who get in his way by beheading them.
10. Jack o’ Lanterns
Everyone has carved a pumpkin for Halloween, but do we know why? Jack o’ Lanterns originated from an old legend called “Stingy Jack,” a story about a man named Jack who tricked the Devil into buying him a drink, and also bargained to stay out of hell when he died. When Jack eventually died, God wouldn’t let him into heaven and the Devil wouldn’t let him into hell, so Jack was forced to walk the earth with only a piece of coal to light his way at night, which he put into a turnip and used as a lantern. In Ireland and Scotland people would put candles in turnips and potatoes to ward off Stingy Jack and other wandering spirits. Later, when the tradition moved to the US , people began using pumpkins instead of turnips.
In the 1990’s, a common rumor was that the hangman decorations put in front yards were actually real people who had committed suicide. Unsurprisingly, most of these reports were false alarms or pranks.
12. Day of the Dead
Just to clarify, Halloween has nothing to do with the Day of the Dead. Day of the Dead is a holiday that originated in Mexico and has it’s own culture and traditions associated with it. Halloween also isn’t the “American version of Day of the Dead,” especially since Halloween originated in Ireland.
We all know vampires don’t exist, and that, other than the costumes, they have nothing to do with Halloween. But what if they are real? According the the 1999 Vampire Census (which is apparently (maybe) a thing: http://bit.ly/208PZzt), there are 217 people that recognize themselves to be “modern vampires,” out of the 713 who responded to the Census. These vampires view Halloween as a “holiday where they can delight in the freedom to be who they are; it’s is the only night when the rest of the world looks like them.”