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10 fun facts you didn't know about Halloween

by Meghan Tankersley for USA TODAY 10Best

1. "Jack o'lantern" comes from the Irish legend of Stingy Jack

It’s a long story involving a drink, a deal with the devil and a piece of burning coal inside a carved-out turnip.

2. Candy corn was originally called Chicken Feed

Because corn is what was used to feed chickens, this candy creation was called "Chicken Feed" and the original box was marked with a colorful rooster.

3. Trick-or-treating comes from "souling"

As the Catholic Church started supplanting pagan festivals with their own holidays (like All Souls' Day), the act of souling became popular, and poor children and adults would go door-to-door dressed as spirits accepting food in exchange for prayers.

4. The most lit jack o'lanterns on display is 30,581

Photo courtesy of Nicole Perry

According to Guinness World Records, the highest number of lit jack o'lanterns on display is 30,581 by the City of Keene, New Hampshire in 2013. That's a whole lot of pumpkins!

5. Halloween folklore is full of fortune-telling and magic

Old English folklore about Halloween is full of superstition and fortune-telling that still lingers today, like bobbing for apples or avoiding black cats.

6. Day of the Dead should really be called Days of the Dead

The original Aztec celebration actually lasted a month, but when Spanish conquistadors came over to Mexico in the 16th century, they merged the festival with the Catholic All Saints' Day.

7. Michael Myers' mask is actually a William Shatner mask

The "Halloween" movie crew used the cheapest mask they could find: a $2 Star Trek Captain James Kirk mask. They spray painted it white and reshaped the eye holes, making William Shatner look incredibly creepy.

8. Halloween originated from an ancient Celtic festival

The Halloween we know today can trace its roots back to the ancient Celtic end-of-harvest festival of Samhain. During Samhain, people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off evil spirits.

9. Des Moines has a hilarious tradition called Beggars' Night

Beggars' Night is very similar to regular trick-or-treating, except kids are required to tell a joke, poem or perform a "trick" for a treat. The best part? The jokes are notoriously groan-worthy.

10. The White House is haunted

The most common ghost sighting is of Abraham Lincoln who has been spotted by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands and Sir Winston Churchill.

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