Let’s face it, Halloween is a strange holiday. We dress up in outlandish costumes, visit terrifying Salt Lake City haunted houses and take candy from complete strangers. Weird.
To get us in the mood for the totally bizarre holiday, we’ve rounded up 5 strange Halloween facts you probably never knew.
1. Halloween originated in ancient Ireland and Scotland.
Halloween is a modern version of the ancient festival of Samhain (pronounced “sow-win”), which originated throughout Scotland and Celtic lands across Northern Europe. It was, and is, celebrated to usher in the start of the winter season and signal the end of the harvest months. It is believed that the barriers between the world of the living and the dead are broken down during Samhain. In previous times people would leave offerings outside the village for fairies or their ancestors. In order to not be taken by the fairies, Celts would dress as animals or monsters so as to not be recognized. There would also be great bonfires to ensure the sun would rise again after the long dark winter.
Be careful not to be recognized by an evil fairy when you visit your favorite Utah haunted house.
2. Black & orange aren’t just a spooky color combo to sell kitschy decor.
When someone mentions Halloween, we all immediately think of black and orange decor. The reason behind this has everything to do with the origin of the holiday. The ancient festival of Samhain was celebrated at the end of harvest every year, to usher in the season of darkness, winter, and at the time of year when the barriers between the living and dead are gone. The orange is representative of late season crops, like pumpkins and squash, that are typically harvested in the fall. Black is symbolic of the dark winter. The two colors, then, are symbols of life and death.
Now, when you wear your best orange and black to your favorite Salt Lake City haunted house, you’ll be thinking of the real meaning of the spooky color combo.
3. Jack o’ Lanterns were originally carved in turnips.
This strange Halloween tradition began in England with the myth of Stingy Jack. This Irish legend tells of a man who invited the Devil to share a drink, but didn’t want to pay. He conned the Devil to turn himself into a coin to pick up the tab. But ol’ Stingy Jack pocketed the coin and high-tailed it from the bar. The Devil, not too pleased with Jack’s miserly trickery, banished Jack from both heaven and hell, cursing him to live in eternal darkness. Jack was only granted one source of light in his perpetual night: a piece of burning coal inside in a carved turnip lantern. Irish and English children would carve faces into beets, potatoes and turnips and place them on the front porch to scare Stingy Jack away. When Irish immigrants arrived in the US, they found pumpkins were less expensive than the other vegetables. They began carving ghastly faces into pumpkins to carry on this strange tradition in their new country.
Shall we thank high turnip prices for the switch to a jolly pumpkin? Plus, no one ever ordered a turnip-spiced latte to keep warm in line for a Salt Lake City haunted house.
4. Bobbing for apples can help you find true love.
Although there is some debate about how long “bobbing for apples” has been around, many claim that it is a future-telling tradition that began in the British and Scottish Isles. It was said that apples were plopped into a bucket of warm water then participants would try to catch one of the floating fruits using only their teeth. The captured apples would be peeled carefully, leaving one long strip. The peel would then be circled around the catcher’s head three times and thrown over the shoulder. Superstition said the peel strip would fall to the ground in the shape of one’s true love’s first initial. Which makes perfect sense.
Need a companion for a trip to a Utah haunted house? Maybe an apple peel can help you find the perfect date.
5. Captain Kirk wants to murder you.
Masks are a staple of any Halloween party or Salt Lake City haunted house. But few masks are as famous as the murderous Michael Meyer’s mask in the mother of all horror flicks, Halloween. But the face of this fearsome killer may be familiar to you for more than one reason. The moviemakers, working with an incredibly tight budget, needed a low-budget face for their cinematic villain. They were able to pick up a William Shatner Star Trek mask at a local costume shop for two bucks. With a little paint and adjustment, our beloved Captain Kirk was transformed into one of the most recognizable horror movie characters of all time. When Shatner learned that Meyer’s iconic look included his own face, the Star Trek actor said he was honored.
Take a look around the next Salt Lake City haunted house you visit, Captain Kirk may just be there.
Don’t miss out on the scariest haunted house in Utah! Get your tickets to the Strangling Bros. Haunted Circus, now.