Quiz: How Much Do You Really Know About Halloween?

Many of the holidays we celebrate in the West have some questionable historical foundations, and in some ways, it doesn't matter. Christmas is no less wonderful even with the knowledge that Jesus wasn't actually born on December 25, and Halloween probably benefits from the giant gap between honoring hallowed saints and finding a girl in a sexy vampire costume passed out in your bushes.

The mythology of Halloween is a strange one, though. Guess which ones of the following are true and which ones are false.


1. On Halloween night, 1926, Harry Houdini died of a brain hemorrhage after spending 25 minutes immersed in a bath of ice-cold water, unable to escape from his straitjacket.

2. On Halloween night in 1978, a group of people in Norris, Michigan, tried to conjure the ghost of Harry Houdini at a seance by putting his favorite snack, lox and bagels, into a giant can of milk.

3. Trick-or-treating comes from the late medieval practice of souling, when poor people would go to rich people's doors and ask for food in return for prayers for the dead. Those who didn't give food would get pranked or vandalized.

4. An average of 7,500 dogs get sick every Halloween after eating chocolate out of unattended candy bags.

5. In 1977, the Mainway Novelties company marketed an "Invisible Pedestrian" costume for children that was simply an all-black jumpsuit with gloves and a mask.

6. Since 1950, children and adults have collected more than $19 million by trick-or-treating for UNICEF.

7. In 1973, police departments in Los Angeles, Detroit, and Philadelphia concluded that 63 percent of reports of razor blades, glass, syringes, and drugs tainting Halloween candy were hoaxes.

8. The Halloween Problem is a phenomenon in computing when a database update causes a computer to act as though it's gone one day back in time.

9. In 1982, hospitals in Munhill, Pennsylvania, offered to X-ray children's Halloween candy for pins and razor blades.

10. In the 1850s, before people started using pumpkins, jack-o'-lanterns were made from taxidermied pigs' heads.



1. False. Houdini died from a ruptured appendix after receiving an unexpected punch in the stomach.

2. True

3. True

4. False. I could find no statistics for this, even though it does happen. Educate!

5. False. It's just a skit from Saturday Night Live.

6. False. The amount collected since 1950 is more than $144 million.

7. True

8. Sort of true. It's more complicated than that.

9. True

10. False. They were made from scooped-out turnips.


Photo by Robert Couse-Baker/Flickr

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