Halloween Facts and Misconceptions


As anyone who's been to Walmart lately has noticed, Halloween is coming up. While a lot of people-children and adults alike-consider the holiday to be a lot of fun, others approach it with fear. I'm not talking about ghosts or spiders or things like that, although those can be scary too. No, I'm talking about the many misconceptions and urban legends going around about things that go on that would make any parent more cautious to allow their children to participate. Some of the legends are practical and based on truth, but others are simply fables. Some make sense, but others are just plain weird. In this post, I'm going to attempt to separate fact and fiction.

-Halloween is based on a Satanic holiday. No. It's actually based on a Celtic festival called Samhain (pronounced sow-een). In their time, November 1 was observed as the end of summer, the final harvest before the long and cold winter came. October 31, essentially 'New Year's Eve', was a day when the line between the living and the dead was seen as being 'thinner' and was observed as a day to honor the dead. While some legends did include spirits coming back from the dead and causing trouble, Satan had nothing to do with it. Even if the holiday did have questionable beginnings, though, the secular American celebrations have evolved well beyond that. Like Christmas, it's become a 'Hershey' or 'Hallmark' holiday-in other words, it's so commercialized now that someone would have to go to a lot of effort to bring back any of the original meanings of the celebration. Holidays, like a lot of other things in life, are what we make of them.

-Razor blades in apples. While such unfortunate incidents have occurred, they are nowhere near as widespread as the stories would have you believe. Furthermore, they are usually more in the 'let's scare my little brother' vein than the 'evil stranger' one. There was one incident in 2000 where a man put needles in the Snickers bars he handed out, but no one needed medical attention. Aside from that, most stories involving candy tampered with in this way were either hoaxes altogether or the result of the type of stupid pranks common on Halloween.

As for poisonings, most cases have been found to be either hoaxes or an intent by an adult to harm a particular person. For instance, there was one case in 1974 when an 8-year old died after eating cyanide-laced Pixie Stix, but the poison came from his own father in an attempt to collect the life insurance rather than the random workings of a madman. Even so, it's still a good idea to check your kids' candy to be sure everything is okay.

-Strangers have been known to lure children into their houses so they can make them their personal slaves. This is just my silly way of saying that your children should stay on the porch rather than going inside the house of anyone they don't know.

There are quite a few more urban legends involving Halloween, but Snopes.com tells the rest of them much better than I can. Have fun and be safe!

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