One of my favorite holidays—and by far the spookiest of them all (with the exception of maybe Valentine’s Day, which horrifies nearly every man I know)—is finally upon us: Halloween!
All over the nation, children are anxiously awaiting the final school bell so they can rush home, get into their costumes and start canvassing neighborhoods for candy and other delicious treats.
Incidentally, anyone planning to hand out fruit still has time to grab some candy and to avoid the tricks that will undoubtedly come once kids realize you gave them apples or oranges.
Rather than writing one of my usual posts—which would surely involve Halloween safety tips for trick-or-treaters and their parents (most of which are widely known by now)—I thought it might be nice to try something a little different. Here are some random facts about Halloween for your reading pleasure—with some commentary tossed in, just for the hell of it—followed by an original poem about All Hallows Eve by Richard Anderson.
I hope you enjoy them and that you all have a fun—and safe—Halloween!
JUST THE HALLOWEEN FACTS… AND OTHER SPOOKY TRIVIA
Ireland is believed to be the birthplace of Halloween and the tradition of Jack-O-Lanterns comes from an old Celtic tale that goes something like this: Jack was a stingy fellow who on several occasions managed to trick the Devil. As a result, he was forbidden entrance into either Heaven or Hell and was instead condemned to wander the Earth—waving his lantern to lead other people away from their paths.
In Great Britain, Jack-O-Lanterns were traditionally carved from turnips. When the practice reached America, however—where turnips were much more expensive—cheaper pumpkins were used instead.
Although some Christians I know refuse to celebrate Halloween because of its connection to paganism, the truth is that it celebrates the Christian holiday of All Hallows Eve and precedes another Christian holiday, All Saints Day, which takes place tomorrow.
Samhainophobia is the fear of Halloween. Try saying that five times quickly!
Halloween was once a festival that celebrated the boundaries between life and death. For this reason, the symbolic colors of orange (strength, endurance) and black (death, darkness) have been used to commemorate it.
Trick-or-treating has roots in the medieval practice of souling when the poor would go door-to-door to pray for souls in exchange for food. And these days, companies that produce Halloween-related items—from costumes to candy—could not be happier. Each year, candy makers collect roughly $6 billion, while costumes alone produce an annual gross of roughly $3 billion!
After Christmas, Halloween is the second highest grossing commercial holiday.
The word witch comes from the Old English word wicce, which loosely translated means “wise woman.” In fact, the Wiccan were once highly respected people—not old, wart-faced hags who ride brooms and keep black cats as their familiars.
According to tradition, a person who wears their clothes inside out and walks backwards on Halloween is sure to see a witch at midnight. Give it a try!
Some of the signs for recognizing a werewolf include tattoos, a long middle finger, unibrows (i.e. one extended eyebrow instead of two distinct ones) and hairy palms. Damn it! Some of my friends might be werewolves!
The mask that terrified moviegoers in the Halloween films—worn, of course, by the crazed killer Michael Myers—was actually a cheap Star Trek mask of William Shatner, who incidentally was honored by its appearance in the horror franchise.
The largest Halloween party was in New Orleans and included more than 17,000 revelers; the largest pumpkin was grown by Norm Craven in 1993 and weighed a whopping 836 pounds!
Traditionally in America, the top three Halloween costumes for children are Princess, Witch and Spider-Man. Of course, expect to see Miley Cyrus and Kim Kardashian costumes this year, which are guaranteed to be even more frightening!
A gentle breeze rustling the dry cornstalks.
A sound is heard, a goblin walks.
A harvest moon suffers a black cat’s cry.
Oh’ do the witches fly!
Bonfire catches a pumpkins gleem.
Rejoice, it’s Halloween!
Richard Anderson, 1998
Posted on October 31, 2013, in Perspectives and tagged children, commentary, facts, Family, funny, Halloween, holidays, horror, humor, Jack O'Lantern, Kim Kardashian, Michael Myers, perspectives, tradition, trick or treat, trivia. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.