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While Halloween is all about candy and scary tales, it turns out some popular Halloween-related tales aren’t actually true. There are a lot of myths and urban legends associated with Halloween, which parents have been telling kids for generations, but it turns out they really shouldn’t be believed.
Well, USA Today has set out to debunk those common myths and urban legends, and if you believed any of them you may feel a little embarrassed.
Common Halloween myths include:
- People are poisoning the candy – Every generation of kids has heard the tale of poison candy, or even better, ones with razor blades stuck in them. But the truth is, such instances of adults trying to harm kids with their candy are far from common. Joel Best, a professor of sociology and criminal justice at the University of Delaware, notes that as far back as 1958 there haven’t been any reports of a kid killed or seriously injured from trick or treating candy. There was one case in 1974 but it was a child’s father, not a stranger, who put cyanide in the candy. Still, it won’t hurt to check your child’s take at the end of the night.
- It’s open season on black cats – A common myth is that animal shelters won’t allow black cats to be adopted over Halloween out of fear they will be tortured or sacrificed. While that was once true, and some shelters may still do it, such concerns were bigger in the 80s and 90s due to the fear of satanic cults. In general most shelters have abandoned the practice.
- Halloween is all about Satan - While a lot of people believe Halloween is about Satan worship, that’s probably not at all true. There’s no definite answer regarding the real roots of the holiday. Some scholars suggest it could be rooted in the Celtic holiday Samhain, which believed to be about communing with the dead, but folks stopped celebrating that before “Satanism” was popular. It’s more commonly believed that Halloween is derived from the Catholics’ “All Hallow’s Eve, which is the evening before All Saints' Day, and two nights before All Souls Day.
- It’s all about pumpkins – While it wouldn’t be Halloween without carving jack o’ lanterns out of pumpkins, the original ones were actually carved out of turnips and had a candle inside to represent a soul trapped in purgatory.
- “The Legend of Sleep Hallow” is a Halloween story – While Washington Irving’s classic is often associated with Halloween, the book actually has nothing to do with the holiday. Not only is Halloween not mentioned in the book, it wasn’t even celebrated with Irving wrote it.
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