Forget the winter holidays — if you're an enthusiast of the strange and likely-to-keep-you-up-at-night, Halloween is the most wonderful time of year. The scares seem to get scarier (or at least gorier) every time the holiday comes around, but sometimes, the terror comes from a source you wouldn't quite expect. I'm talking about the parts of Halloween that are secretly gross, and not because they're intended to be that way.
Before getting into the stuff that will awaken your inner germaphobe, it's worth noting that not all bacteria are created equally. Some are totally deserving of their bad reputation — looking at you, E. coli — but most are actually harmless or even beneficial to humans. In fact, you have about 100 trillion bacteria living on or inside your body right now (not to freak you out or anything), and humans probably wouldn't be able to survive without the help of our microscopic buddies breaking down food and producing vitamins. So when you read about things like all the bacteria colonizing your office desk, the amount of bacteria is less important than the kind. You don't want to run into pathogens like Staphylococci, but plenty of bacteria won't affect you either way.
All this is to say you should take the following list with a grain of salt. You're probably not going to die from wearing a Pokémon mask on Halloween — not that this makes any of the stuff below any less icky. Here are six ways Halloween is secretly super gross.
Masks Trap All Kinds Of Grossness
Maybe don't share a mask with anyone if you can help it. According to a 2013 study, bacteria grows incredibly quickly on the inside of a mask, and when you think about it, the full-face ones can trap the moisture and germs from your mouth. Ew.
Pumpkins Don't Last Forever
There are probably people out there that dispose of their carved pumpkins the day after Halloween. Probably. It certainly doesn't feel that way, though, when you walk out the door in mid-November and immediately step in the pile of squish that used to be your jack-o-lantern.
Bobbing For Apples Is Probably Super Unsanitary
Did you ever think about all the saliva and snot swimming around in the pail used to bob for apples? Considering all the odd places saliva turns up, it's not outside the realm of possibility that a bucket full of water people repeatedly stick their heads into would end up full of bodily fluids.
People Used To Leave Food Out
In the early days of Halloween, back when it was a Celtic tradition called Samhain, people used to leave food and wine outside their doors to keep spirits away. Sure, they're technically meant for the dead, but you can't tell me a living person didn't get hungry and snack on a cake that had been left outside for four days.
Everyone Sticks Their Hands In The Candy
Not every house gives out candy on Halloween; plenty of people leave bowls of candy on their doorstep while they party the night away (more on that later). It's super convenient, but communal candy bowls aren't known for being sterile — the total opposite, actually.
Parties Are Full Of Germs
Like every major American holiday, Halloween is used by many people as an excuse to party like they don't have to work the next morning. Unfortunately for anyone who's the least bit squeamish, double-dipping is pretty much par for the course, whether it's in the form of sharing a shot glass or sticking a half-eaten carrot in the hummus. But I have good news! According to Women's Health, double-dipping is unlikely to make you sick. Just don't think too hard about all the saliva you're eating along with your spooky guacamole.