House and Home

10 Things You Didn't Know About Halloween

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 (Reuters)

When you stop to think about it, Halloween is one of the strangest celebrations of the year. It's a whole holiday built around ghosts and sugar.

Weirder still is how it affects the behavior of nearly everyone in America, no matter their age. Kids dress up in silly costumes and collect candy from complete strangers; teens dress up in silly costumes and egg the houses of complete strangers; college students dress up in silly costumes and get drunk with complete strangers; and grown adults stay inside to watch old Halloween episodes of "Roseanne" on TV Land.

Like we said, it's super strange.

And if that wasn't enough, here's 10 eerie facts that make Halloween even stranger:

#1. After the original CBS broadcast of "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," viewers from across the United States sent packages of candy specifically for the title character. According to "Peanuts" creator Charles M. Schulz, they were upset because Charlie kept getting rocks instead of candy while trick-or-treating.

#2. Halloween retail store Spirit Halloween claims they can determine the outcome of a presidential election based on the sales of each candidate's mask. In the past four elections, which is as long as they've been keeping track, the sales of Spirit's masks have accurately predicted the winner. In 2004, BuyCostumes.com claimed they had data to support this same phenomenon all the way back through Reagan's first election.

#3. More cars are stolen on Halloween than any other holiday, with 2,328 cases being reported in 2011 alone (the last year data was available). New Year's Day is a close second, with 2286 reported cases in 2011.

#4. In Hollywood, California, it's illegal to use, posess or sell Silly String in public areas from 12:01 a.m. on October 31 through 12:00 p.m. on November 1. "A lot of people have made fun of this ordinance," said Matt LaBonge, the councilman who proposed the ban in 2004. "But if you talk to the street cleaners and the police officers, it has been an effective tool." Silly String offenders may face a fine of up to $1,000 if caught.

#5. According to Michael Downing, the author of "Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Savings Time," the candy industry had a hand in changing the length of Daylight Savings Time in order to sell more candy before Halloween. Candy-makers were among the supporters of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which shifted the end of Daylight Savings Time from "the last sunday in October" to the "first Sunday of November," effectively giving trick-or-treaters an extra hour of daylight to gather sweets. (Downing also recounts how they failed to accomplish the same thing at the 1985 Daylight Saving hearings after putting candy pumpkins on the senators' seats.)

#6. The producers of John Carpenter's 1978 film "Halloween" modified an old Captain Kirk mask (featuring a likeness of William Shatner) in order to create serial killer Michael Myers' emotionless mask for the movie. Shatner became aware of this fact, so after "Halloween" became a hit, he bought a Michael Myers mask to wear while taking his children trick-or-treating.

#7. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has named Halloween as the third deadliest day for pedestrians, with an average of 30 people being struck and killed by cars every year. December 23 and January 1 are the first and second, respectively.

#8. In 2006, researchers at Yale University determined that women are less likely to give birth on Halloween by way of scheduled cesarian sections and spontaneous births. "One possible explanation is that … there are different kinds of psychological factors, which could have a role on hormones," said Becca R. Levy, the associate professor of epidemiology and psychology at Yale's School of Health. The same study also found that the number of births increased on Valentine's Day.

#9. Billboard recently released a list of the most-played "Halloween-themed" songs in America, based on airplay and Nielsen ratings in the week precending October 31, 2013. Coming in at the top spot was Michael Jackson's "Thriller," followed by "Monster Mash" by Bobby "Boris" Pickett & the Crypt-Kickers and "Ghostbusters" by Ray Parker, Jr.

#10. Before becoming synonymous with Halloween, Brach's once marketed candy corn as "summertime candies." By the mid-20th century, the confections soon became more popular during Halloween and Thanksgiving (partly due to their autumnal colors), but they continued to be a frequent addition to Easter baskets during this time.