But every year around this time, social media becomes clogged with news articles and recycled memes warning parents against drugs snuck into Halloween candy or of the satanic origins of trick or treat. Sometimes parents don’t know what to believe. So let’s debunk five of the biggest Halloween myths out there.
1. Evil People Are Putting Razor Blades in Candy Apples
This is, by far, the most pervasive myth associated with Halloween. The fear that some local lunatic is slipping pins or razor blades into his homemade candy apples is so widespread that medical centers and police stations routinely offer free X-rays of Halloween treats.
But has a razor blade ever been found? Folklorist Rick Santino at Bowling Green State University has written extensively about Halloween and traces the razor blade scare back to a rash of supposed tamperings in New Jersey back in the late 1960s, leading to a 1968 New Jersey law requiring mandatory prison sentences for people caught sticking razor blades in apples.
2. Fine, Not Razor Blades, But Drugs!
n the early 1980s, reports began to circulate of nefarious individuals handing out children’s stickers on Halloween laced with LSD, the hallucinogenic drug. Despite zero media reports of kids actually receiving acid-soaked stickers, police departments and concerned parent groups continued issuing warnings about supposed “blue star” LSD stickers targeting kids.
In an eye-opening letter to The New York Times, a University of Utah folklore professor named Jan Harold Brunvand traced the confusion back to police alerts in 1980 about so-called “blotter acid,” which are sheets of paper stamps dipped in LSD and sold as individual “hits.” Since the sheets were sometimes inked with cartoon figures, the police warned that “Children may be susceptible to this type of stamp.” From there, it morphed to stickers and quickly entered the territory of Halloween myth.
3. People Adopt Black Cats to Sacrifice on Halloween
The rumor that Satanists and self-proclaimed witches line up at animal shelters every Halloween to adopt black cats is so pervasive that many shelters lock up their black cats (and black rabbits) in October.
Let’s let the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) clear this one up. “While it is true that animals too often become the victims of holiday pranks and cruelty, there is no reason to believe that witches are involved, or that shelters are a source,” writes Stephen Zawistowski, a former ASPCA senior executive. “Normal adoption counseling procedures should be able to screen out those applicants with bad intent. Continued publicity on this tends to make adoption counseling procedures look arbitrary and silly.”
Apparently, this rumor got started in the 1980s when a woman took a black cat from a shelter as an accessory to a Halloween costume. A few days later, a black cat of the same description was found dead. But there has never been any hard evidence of ritual black cat sacrifices at Halloween.
4. Halloween Is as American as Apple Pie
Nope, turns out Halloween is as Irish as … shepherd’s pie? As Santino explains in an article dispelling Halloween myths, Halloween traces its roots back to the Celtic celebration of Samhain (pronounced “sow-in”), ….[ ]