Thursday, October 27, 2011

Halloween Trivia That Tricks and Treats; Goblins and Ghosts and Witches, Oh My; 2011 Most Popular Costumes? Sheen and Snooki

Halloween is not my favorite holiday. Before we were married and after, but before we had kids, my husband and I lived in fear of being invited to a costume party. Both on the same page about dressing up (read that, strong dislike) we came up with stock costumes that we could live with. I was a scarecrow with a red plaid shirt (right out of my closet), jeans (also out of my closet) and a straw hat that was probably a prize from a fair we had attended. Two circles of red on my cheeks and I was done. My husband had a red cowboy-ish woven poncho (actually I think it was an old rug that belonged to his mother and we cut a slit for his head) and a large sombrero (not sure where this came from but somehow it was in our possession) and jeans. No makeup. That was it. Tah-dah.

You can see why it's just not a happy memory for us.

But I suppose I should be grateful that those days are behind us because Halloween of late has been supersized with professional costumes in specialty Halloween stores that dot the landscape, indoor and outdoor house decorations rivaling Christmas. I'm just happy that trick or treating has remained relatively the same.

So if you're a reluctant Halloweener like me, here is some trivia to help you look like you get in the spirit:

Halloween Color Schemes
Orange and black are Halloween colors. Orange is associated with the Fall harvest and pumpkins and black is associated with darkness and death.

Pumpkins r' Us

  • Jack o’ Lanterns originated in Ireland where people placed candles in hollowed-out turnips to keep away spirits and ghosts on the Samhain holiday.
  • Illinois is the leading pumpkin-producing state with an estimated 427 million pounds according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.
  • Pumpkins are not just orange, they also come in white, blue and green.

Costume Corner
This year the most popular Halloween costumes are Charlie Sheen. Other choices are Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Snooki from Jersey Shore and Kate Middleton. The most popular costumes of all time are witches, ghosts, cowboys or cowgirls, vampires.

How to make a witch hat
You'll need:
Black construction paper
Craft knife
Scotch tape


  • Place the construction paper on the table and put something on each corner to keep it flat.
  • Draw a large circle on the construction paper, using a compass. This will be the width of the hat from one end of the brim to the other end of the brim. Cut out the circle.
  • Draw a second, smaller circle inside the first circle. The small circle should be large enough to fit the wearer's head.
  • Cut out the inner circle, using the craft knife. You now have a round piece of construction paper and a round piece with a hole in the middle for the brim.
  • Draw a line across the center of the round piece of construction paper, using the pencil and ruler. Cut the construction paper in half along the line.
  • Roll the half-circle into a cone shape, with one end wide and the other end coming to a point. Make sure the wide opening fits into the open circle of the brim.
  • Staple together the two ends of the bottom of the cone to hold it together.
  • Glue the cone-shaped construction paper together along the seam.
  • Wait for the glue to dry. When the glue is dry, glue or tape the wide open end of the cone to the brim.
  • Decorate your witch hat. Squirt some glue around the hat and sprinkle glitter on it.

Halloween History
  • 2000 years ago, the Celts who lived in the northeastern regions of Europe (Ireland, France and the UK) held pagan festivals on last day of October, the last day of the Celtic calendar. They called these festivals Samhain, which translates to "summer's end."It was originally a pagan holiday honoring the dead. Holloween's name  was changed to All Hallows Eve.
  • These ancient peoples believed that the spirits of the dead would rise and cause mischief. The Druids who were their spiritual leaders, would communicate with the dead and predict events of the New Year knowing that many of them would not survive the long winter. The bonfire was a major part of the festival. The Druids would light the fire, and then the celebrants would burn grains and portions of the harvest as tributes. They looked to their religious leaders for guidance. The ancient Celts thought that spirits and ghosts roamed the countryside on Halloween night. They began wearing masks and costumes to avoid being recognized as human. These costumes were most often made from animal hides. 
  • In about 43 AD, the Celts were conquered by the Romans. The Romans had their own rituals to honor and appease the dead which involved Romans visiting gravesites and leaving a number of tributes. The offerings were supposed to include a bit of bead, some salt, a few seeds of grain and a wreath. One of the Roman festivals was known as Feralia. 
  • In 601 AD, Pope Gregory, the 1st issued an edict directing missionaries to use native celebrations and practices to their advantage in order to convert the pagans. The fact that All Saints' Day is celebrated the day-after Halloween is no coincidence. It was a way of drawing attention away from the Celtic rituals held on the last day of October. The missionaries preached that spirits, which were a part of the Samhain rituals, were evil and that those who worshiped them were also evil or devil worshippers. Halloween became associated with evil spirits and the following day, which was the Christian holiday, was associated with the Saints. In another attempt to diminish the popularity of this celebration the Church introduced All Souls Day. This celebration took place on the 2nd of November. 
  • Halloween night in our country is a time of fun and festivities. Most children and some adults get dressed up and go trick or treating. It can also be a time for pranks and parties.
  • Some people think that Halloween is an evil night of devil worship. 
  • Halloween is the 2nd most commercially successful holiday, with Christmas being the first.
Catch Up on Candy
  • Candy corn history dates back to the 1880s when the Philadelphia-based Wunderlee Candy Company's George Renninger invented this popular candy. Wunderlee Candy Company was the first company to manufacture the candy. In 1900, the Goelitz Candy Company, which later became the Jelly Belly Candy Company, started making these candies and continues to make candy corn today.
  • Tootsie Rolls were the first wrapped penny candy in America.
  • Halloween candy sales average about 2 billion dollars annually in the United States.
  • Chocolate candy bars top the list as the most popular candy for trick-or-treaters with Snickers #1.
  • Bobbing for apples is thought to have originated from the Roman harvest festival that honors Pamona, the goddess of fruit trees.
  • According to the U.S. Census Bureau, California leads the nation in the number of chocolate and cocoa manufacturing establishments, with 135, followed by Pennsylvania, with 111.
  • The National Retail Federation estimated consumers in 2010 spent $66.28 per person on Halloween costumes, cards, and candy.
  • Chocolate makes up about three-quarters of a trick-or-treater’s loot, according to the National Confectioners Association.

Scary Stuff
  • Black cats were once believed to be witch's familiars who protected their powers.
  • Signs of a werewolf are a unibrow, hair palms, tattoos, and a long middle finger.
  • Vampires are mythical beings who defy death by sucking the blood of humans.
  • In 1962, The Count Dracula Society was founded by Dr. Donald A. Reed and to this day, there are vampire clubs and societies with people claiming to be real vampires.
  • There really are so-called vampire bats that live in Central and South America and feed on the blood of cattle, horses and birds.
  • Many people still believe that gargoyles were created by medieval architects and stone carvers to ward off evil spirits
  • If you see a spider on Halloween, it is the spirit of a loved on watching over you.
  • Worldwide, bats are vital natural enemies of night-flying insects.
  • The common little brown bat of North America has the longest life span for a mammal it's size, with a life span averaging 32 years.

Best Halloween Movies
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show
  • The Shining
  • The Silence of the Lambs (right)
  • Halloween
  • Poltergeist
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street
  • Alien
  • Night of the Living Dead
  • The Exorcist
  • Seven
For kids:

  • Casper
  • Ghostbusters
  • Clifford’s Big Halloween
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
  • Monsters, Inc.
  • Rugrats Halloween
  • Beetlejuice (left)
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • The Witches
  • Samhainophobia is the fear of Halloween
  • 90 percent of parents admit to sneaking goodies from their kids’ trick-or-treat bags.

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