Trick for Treat


The custom of trick or treating probably has several origins. During Samhain, the Druids believed that the dead would play tricks on mankind and cause panic and destruction. They had to be appeased, so country folk would give the Druids food as they visited their homes.

An old Irish peasant practice called for going door to door to collect money, breadcake, cheese, eggs, butter, apples, etc., in preparation for the festival of St. Columb Kill.

Also a ninth-century European custom called souling. On November 2, All Souls Day, early Christians would walk from village to village begging for "soul cakes" made out of square pieces of bread with currants. The more soul cakes the beggars would receive, the more prayers they would promise to say on behalf of the dead relatives of the donors. At the time, it was believed that the dead remained in limbo for a time after death, and that prayer, even by strangers, could expedite a soul's passage to heaven.


Did You Know...

A traditional food eaten on Halloween is barnbrack, a kind of fruitcake that can be bought in stores or baked at home. A muslin-wrapped treat is baked inside the cake that, it is said, can foretell the eater's future. If a ring is found, it means that the person will soon be wed; a piece of straw means that a prosperous year is on its way.


                               Halloween Hangman created by The Dimension's Edge, Inc.


Witches and Cats

The use of witches and cats (together with ghosts) in the celebration of Halloween originates with the Druids, who believed that ghosts, spirits, fairies, witches, elves and all manner of supernatural manifestation emerged on Halloween night to possibly harm the living. It was a common Celtic belief that cats (particularly black ones) had once been human beings who had been transformed into felines as punishment for their evil deeds or through coming in contact with bad magick. Black cats were often tied with silver ropes because it was thought such creatures possessed the ability to protect sacred treasures. Catholic traditions blended with the Celtic beliefs and eventually turned the cat into a witch's familiar, along with the theory that the witch herself had the mystical knowledge to transform herself into the form of a cat. The British once believed that elves rode upon the backs of villagers' cats and would lock up the animals in order that the elves might not catch them. At one time, the British believed that it was the white cat who brought bad luck and not a black one, which was considered to be lucky.
                    
       



Christianity painted the image of a witch as an ugly old hag, often sporting a wart on her nose. Considered by the Church as cohorts of the devil, witches were said to employ spells and charms in order to bring harm to good men and women. Aside from the association with cats, they were said to be assisted by bats or spiders or other creepy-crawly creatures while carrying out their wicked deeds, possessed of the demonic ability to adopt the form of such animals. It was also implied that witches often had need of baby fat in order to attain full power. However, this evil witch character is pure fiction. Witches may be traced back to at least the Celts...and possibly even further. In ancient times, the men and women who were designated as "witches" were considered to be wise people initiated in the mysteries if the spiritual world. They were also healers and experts in the art of medicines. Modern day witches are revivers of these old Pagan religions and related rituals.
  

                          

Halloween Mask  

From earliest times people wore masks when droughts or other disasters struck. They believed that the demons who had brought their misfortune upon them would become frightened off by the hideous masks. Even after the festival of Samhain had merged with Halloween, Europeans felt uneasy at this time of the year. Food was stored in preparation for the winter and the house was snug and warm. The cold, envious ghosts were outside, and people who went out after dark often wore masks to keep from being recognized.

Halloween Radio

The most famous radio broadcast of all time is still considered to be "The War of the Worlds", by Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater on the Air, October 30, 1938. Produced by John Houseman, it caused a near-panic, and lots and lots of press coverage. It also spurred legislation banning the "news" format from radio drama for years following. And although Orson Welles himself said they had no idea they were causing such an uproar, he actually knew it was happening and was thrilled with all the attention. The script, by the late Howard Koch (who also won an Academy Award for the screenplay of "Casablanca"), was actually titled "The Invasion From Mars", but was based on H.G. Wells' novella. 

Click on the player to listen to "The War of the Worlds" in Mp3 



Halloween TV


Horror Hosts

Horror hosts are a particular type of television presenter, often tasked with presenting low-grade films to television audiences.

In the early days of television, stations needed programming, and local stations frequently produced their own shows in-house, covering the gamut from children's fare to serious drama. Due to the expense of preproducing to film, many early television shows were broadcast live, and stations needed personalities to introduce shows, as well as read commercials and Station ID's. Most stations used booth announcers, but a number of shows - in particular those using cartoons or movies - used an on-camera host or hostess to perform those functions.

The first television horror host is generally accepted to be Vampira. The Vampira Show featured mostly low budget suspense films, as few horror films had yet been released for television broadcast. Despite its short 1954-1955 run, The Vampira Show set the standard format for horror host shows to follow.

                             


After the initial airing of King Kong on nationwide television in 1956, many horror films were released to television, and it was natural for local stations to show them on a regular, weekly program—often with a host.

The "Shock!" package, a collection of older science-fiction and horror movies packaged for syndicated television, was released to stations in October 1957. To promote the films, the distributor supplied stations with a promotional kit, which encouraged all kinds of antics. The use of a host was encouraged, and a number of stations elected to use them. Viewers loved the package, as well as the concept, and ratings soared. A "Son of Shock!" package was released in 1958.

Hosts were often plucked from the ranks of the studio staff. In the days of live television, it wasn't uncommon for the weather man or booth announcer to finish a nightly news broadcast and race madly to another part of the soundstage for a quick costume change to present the evening's monster tale.

While a few early hosts like Zacherley and Vampira became the icons of this nationwide movement, most hosts were locals. The impact of these friendly ghouls on their young fans cannot be underestimated. The earliest hosts are still remembered with great affection today.

  

Without a doubt the most recognized horror hostess is the lady with the big......talent, Casandra Petereson, aka Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Elvira was the first horror host ever to be syndicated nationally and has emerged as one of the most original and outrageous characters in popular culture today. She made the horror movie host segments new again with her larger than life figure and her snappy and hilarious wisecracks during commercial breaks. As an icon, Elvira is to Halloween as Santa Claus is to Christmas. Elvira set the standard for everyone else and sometimes even broke it in her zeal to become the matron goddess of Halloween.

 
 

                                 


    


The History of Halloween



    H
alloween's origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of the summer, the harvest, and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter. 

    T
o commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

    B
y A.D. 43, Romans had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain. The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of "bobbing" for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.

    B
y the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints' Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints', All Saints', and All Souls', were called Hallowmas.

     

    A
s European immigrants came to America, they brought their varied Halloween customs with them. Because of the rigid Protestant belief systems that characterized early New England, celebration of Halloween in colonial times was extremely limited there. It was much more common in Maryland and the southern colonies. As the beliefs and customs of different European ethnic groups, as well as the American Indians, meshed, a distinctly American version of Halloween began to emerge. The first celebrations included "play parties," public events held to celebrate the harvest, where neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell each other's fortunes, dance, and sing. Colonial Halloween festivities also featured the telling of ghost stories and mischief-making of all kinds. By the middle of the nineteenth century, annual autumn festivities were common, but Halloween was not yet celebrated everywhere in the country. 

    I
n the second half of the nineteenth century, America was flooded with new immigrants. These new immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing Ireland's potato famine of 1846, helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally. Taking from Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today's "trick-or-treat" tradition. Young women believed that, on Halloween, they could divine the name or appearance of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple parings, or mirrors. 

    I
n the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers, than about ghosts, pranks, and witchcraft. At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focused on games, foods of the season, and festive costumes. Parents were encouraged by newspapers and community leaders to take anything "frightening" or "grotesque" out of Halloween celebrations. Because of their efforts, Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones by the beginning of the twentieth century.

    B
y the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween had become a secular, but community-centered holiday, with parades and town-wide parties as the featured entertainment. Despite the best efforts of many schools and communities, vandalism began to plague Halloween celebrations in many communities during this time. By the 1950s, town leaders had successfully limited vandalism and Halloween had evolved into a holiday directed mainly at the young. Due to the high numbers of young children during the fifties baby boom, parties moved from town civic centers into the classroom or home, where they could be more easily accommodated. Between 1920 and 1950, the centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived. Trick-or-treating was a relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. In theory, families could also prevent tricks being played on them by providing the neighborhood children with small treats. A new American tradition was born, and it has continued to grow. Today, Americans spend $2.5 billion annually on Halloween, making it the Country's second largest commercial holiday.

                                       
                             
Skeletons
 

  



One of the quintessential symbols of Halloween is the skeleton. The skeleton is a traditional symbolic means of facing the reality of death. It is used as a transition to continue a relationship with the dead.
"Oh them bones they make them bodies walk. Them Bones, them bones, if they could only talk."












Jack-o-lanterns


Out of this ancient tradition comes one of our most famous icons of the holiday: the Jack-o-lantern. Originating from Irish folkfore, the Jack-o-lantern was used as a light for the lost soul of Jack, a notorious trickster, stuck between worlds. Jack is said to have tricked the devil into a truck of a tree and by carving an image of a cross in the tree’s trunk, he trapped the devil there. His pranks denied him access to Heaven, and having angered the devil also to Hell, so Jack was a lost soul, trapped between worlds. As a consolation, the devil gave him a sole ember to light his way through the darkness between worlds.
Originally in Ireland turnips were carved out and candles placed inside as lanterns lit to help guide Jack’s lost spirit back home. Hence the term: Jack-o-lanterns. Later, when immigrants came to the new world, pumpkins were more readily available, and so the carved pumpkins carrying a lit candle served the same function.



Pumpkin Facts
  • In 1584, after French explorer Jacques Cartier explored the St. Lawrence region of North America, he reported finding "gros melons." The name was translated into English as "pompions," which has since evolved into the modern "pumpkin."
  • Pumpkins have been grown in North America for five thousand years. They are indigenous to the western hemisphere.
  • Pumpkins are fruits. A pumpkin is a type of squash and is a member of the gourd family (Cucurbitacae), which include squash, cucumbers, gherkins, and melons.
  • Pumpkin seeds should be planted between the last week of May and the middle of June. They take between 90 and 120 days to grow and are picked in October when they are bright orange in color. Their seeds can be saved to grow new pumpkins the next year.
  • The largest pumpkin ever grown stands at 1,680 pounds. It was grown by Joe Jutras of Rhode Island. It was weighed in on October 7, 2007.

Halloween Poem

The Hearse Song

              Don't you ever laugh as the hearse goes by, 
                     For you may be the next to die.


      They wrap you up in a big white sheet
      From your head down to your feet.


      They put you in a big black box
      And cover you up with dirt and rocks.


      All goes well for about a week,
      Then your coffin begins to leak.


      The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out,
      The worms play pinochle on your snout.


      They eat your eyes, they eat your nose,
      They eat the jelly between your toes.


      A big green worm with rolling eyes
      Crawls in your stomach and out your eyes.


      Your stomach turns a slimy green,
      And pus pours out like whipping
cream.


      You spread it on a slice of bread,
      And that's what you eat when you are dead.


 

 


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