Around the Bluhmin’ Town
Boo! Are you scared yet? Well, don’t worry, because while the approach of Halloween may cause a whole lot of ghouls and witches to come knocking at your door (hope they are kids in costume) it also brings the joy of candy! This year, Americans will spend two billion bucks on confection and another five billion on decorations and costumes. Yum…the amount of sugar we consume is frightful! Don’t like candy? One little candy bar (or bag of those little bars) will not hurt. What’s a few thousand calories every now and then?
Halloween originates from a Celtic tradition called Samhain, which was a festival that marked the end of the Celtic calendar year in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. They believed that Samhain was the wicked period of time that fairies or spirits could enter our world, and the Celts would leave plates of food and sweets at their door in order to placate the spirits. Hey, who wants a hungry spirit chasing you around the house? Better to feed the lost souls so they can “move on” to the next house. Hmm…maybe not the most “neighborly” thing to do.
See those cute little kids in your neighborhood all dressed up in costumes? Well that tradition goes back to the medieval times, when poor adults and children went around in costumes during “Hallowmas,” the Autumn holiday which included folks begging for food and money in exchange for prayers. This annual routine was called “souling” and was brought to America by the Irish early in the 20th century.
The idea of walking around asking for candy completely went away during WWII when sugar was rationed, but by 1952 trick-or-treating was hugely popular again. And it has been ever since. Even with fears (mostly unfounded) about kids getting razor blades stuck in their candy, children going house-to-house asking complete strangers for candy is one big American holiday.
I think I will sit in a lawn chair at my daughter’s house in Anthem on Halloween and watch the spectacle unfold. Throngs of kids will walk around, parents pulling the young ones in wagons and even the pets get dressed in costumes. A 90-pound Black Lab named Max gets suited up like a giant tarantula with a costume of eight hairy legs that move in a horrifying fashion when he walks. Max and his owner creep around at dusk and have terrified many. Max looks like a massive spider with tendrils touching the ground stalking the neighborhood. Grown men have screamed seeing Max! Children run and hide. Oh yea, I love all thinks spooky.
Doesn’t a Bloody Mary sound good? You know, spicy tomato juice, vodka and a stalk of celery (must make it healthy) seems about right on Halloween. Oops, no I mean to talk about the ghost of Bloody Mary. Evidently, on October 31 each year, she will appear if you stare into a mirror in a darkened room by the light of thirteen candles and chant “Bloody Mary” thirteen times. Don’t do it! The vengeful spirit might appear at your left shoulder and will either kill you or make you insane. Dear Readers, try this and let me know what happens. Or drink up and think about what might happen! In other words, be very careful on Halloween.
Have you decorated yet? Sixty-five percent of Americans will decorate their homes for Halloween with everything from pumpkins to hanging skeletons from trees. You get the picture – lots of black cats, witches, devils, demons, ghosts, and jack-o-lanterns out there to set the mood. Our habit of lighting up pumpkins – making them into glowing Jack O’Lanterns dates back centuries when the thought was that ghouls and ghosts hate light. So a pumpkin placed at your door, with a candle flickering inside, would keep away any restless spirits flying around that might land at your house.
The lighted Jack O’Lantern might work for keeping ghosts away, but only attracts javelinas! I thought I would decorate by lining my walk-way to the front door with half a dozen pumpkins lit up. They were beautiful! I carved them with huge smiles (because mean or frowning faces bring bad luck). And once dusk came so did the pack of javelinas! They devoured my festive pumpkins, leaving those beasts with orange goo all over their little piggy faces and a mess on my sidewalk!
No wonder we like to eat candy on Halloween! We must comfort ourselves in our fight against the witches, ghosts, vengeful spirits, demons, 90-pound tarantulas and javelinas that might come to our doorstep! Carve a pumpkin, light a candle, drink a Blood Mary (do not chant for her spirit), dress up in an outlandish costume, enjoy the children, avoid the demons and eat a big bag of Snickers, just so you can get through the night!
Oh, and please DO NOT dress up like a clown! Clown terror is sweeping the nation, closing down schools, resulting in shootings, causing children and adults to have fear and anxiety. And if you see a clown walking up your path, slam the door and lock it! Time for a Bloody Mary! Until next week, Dear Readers, enjoy all things spooky and stay safe.