Did you know that Halloween has served as the occasion for many historical events?
- 1517. On October 31 a soon-to-be-ex-priest named Martin Luther launched (cue “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”) the Protestant Reformation.
- In 1636, just in time for All Hallows Eve, a little seminary for poor ministers called the New College opened in Massachusetts. It later changed its name to (cue expensive music) Harvard University.
- In 1838, the day before Halloween, Oberlin College became the first in the U.S. to admit female students (cue Aretha Franklin’s “Respect”), introducing the wonderful, and some thought scary, concept of coeducation.
- In 1846 a group of pioneers set out on the arduous trek to California. They came to be known as (cue creepy music) the Donner Party.
- 1919. Prohibition went into effect on October 28, and people refrained. But three days later, on Halloween, they broke out the booze. Prohibition wildly increased organized crime and (cue tommy guns) murder.
- 1929. On Black Tuesday, ninety years ago today, the worst financial collapse in history occurred (cue desperate music). The market rallied, but on Halloween day began a long downward spiral, initiating the Great Depression.
- 1938. The War of the Worlds radio adaptation aired on October 30. By the next day, Halloween, there was widespread panic in the U.S. due to the fact that millions had believed it to be news of an actual (cue alien sound f/x) Martian invasion!
- 1941. On Halloween day (cue patriotic music) Mount Rushmore opened. Why on Halloween day? I haven’t a clue.
- 1967. Perhaps scariest of all, on October 31, Robert Matthew Van Winkle was born. He would later be known as (cue stolen bass track) Vanilla Ice.
Have fun and make (legal) history of your own this Halloween!
Also see: Is Halloween Evil?