Halloween is a time for spooks, sexy costumes, and eating enough candy to ruin the last vestiges of your bikini bod. Halloween is also a time for believing some really dumb shit. Since the days of yore, people have been particularly susceptible to dumb stories on and around All Hallows’ Eve. Here are some of the dumbest urban legends that people have believed about the spookiest night of the year.
Even in the Internet age, crazy “sightings” still periodically pop up from time to time. There have been periods heavy with Bigfoot, alien, and ghost sightings, over the years, but this year has been dominated by clowns. Since mid-August, reports of creepy clowns have been popping up around the country and the world. Some reports have led to mobs, like this group of brilliant scholars at Penn State, taking to the streets to do some clown hunting.
Reports of clown sightings have led to angry mobs, threats of violence, and, sadly, real violence. Almost all reports that escalate to police involvement include a sentence like, “Yet still, police couldn’t locate a single clown to question.” One of the few verified instances of a “clown sighting” was actually an autistic child who got excited about his costume a few weeks early. It turns out Stephen King’s It is not a documentary.
“Marijuana Halloween Candy”
The other major urban legend dominating the news cycle this Halloween season has been the fear that children might receive a little something special in their candy. Marijuana advocates are quick to note that not only are there no cases of this that have been documented, but it would also be an insanely expensive proposition. That hasn’t stopped police departments and concerned parents from fanning the dank flames with videos like this one from the Denver Police Department.
While there have been a number of instances of children getting their hands on marijuana-infused candy, usually they get to it the same way you got into dad’s liquor cabinet when you were in high school. The odds of a stranger getting your kid high before they attend their first music festival are actually very low.
“National Kill A Pitbull Day”
Social media hoaxes are nothing new, and they’ve always been as dumb as they are now. For example, consider the greatest hoax of 2012: “National Kill A Pitbull Day.” For some reason, pitbull advocacy tends to go viral on Facebook, and some pranksters took advantage of our collective soft hearts towards these misunderstood pups with perhaps the most obvious hoax since the girl whose head is tied on with a string.
It turns out this particular rumor sprang from a Missouri political dispute and became the stuff of urban legend.
Though this one is a classic, it also strains credulity more than any supernatural story ever. It’s one thing to believe in ghosts, it’s another to believe you can summon them, and it is still another thing to believe that they can show up in your mirror, and then drag you through the mirror into some fucked up Narnia. But, nonetheless, the least plausible of Halloween urban legends has long remained among the most popular.
Why is it that Bloody Mary has endured? Experts cite a number of possibilities. Bloody Mary has long been popular among children at sleepovers. Psychologists believe it plays into a need for group ritual in early teen years. Bloody Mary also has its roots in the conflict between Queens Mary and Elizabeth I, who were respectively guilty of killing Protestants and Catholics. This religious tension still plays out in less lethal ways today in the U.S. and Europe. Finally, the imagery is incredibly compelling, as mirrors have fascinated humans ever since we invented them.
And, of course, there is the animating factors that animates all urban legends: Part of us wants them to be true.