Halloween will be upon us soon.
Contrary to popular belief in the South of England, Halloween is NOT an American import.
It is as British as bagpipes, literally.
Halloween has been celebrated for centuries in Scotland, Northern England, Wales and Ireland.
Some would say the Halloween celebrations originated in Ireland and others Scotland, this confusion probably lies with the fact that there has been much migration between the two countries over the centuries, but the concensus seems to be that it was Ireland who began this. The idea that it is an American thing, revolves around the humble pumpkin and the phrase 'Trick or Treat.
Halloween was EXPORTED from Scotland and Ireland to North America by those moving there from those countries.
Scottish and Irish children would go 'guising' at Halloween, that is they would be in disguise and they would go from door to door performing for their neighbours - they would perform a 'party-piece', that is a song, a dance or some sort of routine, perhaps tell a joke, and be rewarded with fruit or nuts. However, there would be the occassion when some miserable old so-and-so would not treat the children, so a revenge would be carried out. THIS is where the notion of the Americanism TRICK or TREAT grew out of.
Now the pumpkin? Pumpkins grow well in the South of England, but not in the rest of the UK.
Scottish and Irish children had their lanterns but these were made from turnips (or swedes as they are known in Southern England - likewise, what the Scots call swedes, Southerners call turnips).
so to clear up the confusion, whether you call it a turnip or a swede, it was the BIGGER of the two that Scottish children, used to make thier lanterns. In my opinion they are more suited; they are more robust. last longer, are unusual and odd shapes, sometimes 'hairy' and a darker colour AND when you scoop out the inside, even though it is much, much harder, it doesn't stink, isn't slimy and messy and the cooked results taste far superior to pumpkin. No really, mashed turnip (English Swede) with salt and pepper and a little sugar is delicious. So the original lantern was a Scottish Turnip, over the years the Scots and Irish tradition as practiced in America, adopted the pumpkin as it is a more well used and known vegetable over there, and indeed, there is no arguing that its shape lends itself well to the idea of a lantern. Thanks to the media, which dictates our lives and American films (which Brits seem to soak up as gospel) such as the Halloween series, here in the South of England, where Halloween, hasn't been a prolific thing on the calender, it is seen as American.
Some years ago, I recall having a conversation with a friend about why we dress up in silly costumes at Halloween. My own thoughts were that like the practice of trick or treating it was an Americanism imported into this country, intended solely for the retail industry to commercialise the day and extract yet more money from us. But no, my friend assured me. This was an ancient custom that was practised by the Celts in order to scare away the evil spirits that were believed to be wandering the Earth on this night. I dont think I hid my disbelief of this explanation very well. Surely if said evil spirits were so easily fooled by mortals dressing up in scary outfits, then they cant have posed too much of a threat in the first place, can they?
However silly this story is, though, there are some grains of truth in it. Halloween is a contraction of All Hallow Even, as it is the evening before All Hallows Day (also known as All Saints Day). It coincides with the ancient festival of Samhain (pronounced Sow-in), which is often described as being Celtic in origin. More specifically it is Irish, from the old Gaelic meaning summers end, a festival on or around November 1st to mark the passing of the light half of the year before the darkening winter begins. There is no evidence of Samhain, or any word like it being in existence in any other Celtic language (it looks nothing like any word you would find in Welsh, for instance), and was probably brought to Scotland by the Irish at some indeterminate point in the past and spread from there, rather than it being a universal Celtic practice to begin with. There is also no real evidence that it was a Druid festival (as is often cited), but was instead a pastoral or agricultural feast day, possibly even the New Year celebration, although this is uncertain. The association of this day with the dead and spirits became attached later on, although it is an interesting point that this time of year marked the time when animals were slaughtered to provide winter stores of food, and that the onset of winter marked signalled an increasing likelihood of humans dieing over the coming months as well, so perhaps there was something of a connotation with death after all.
The point at which the real association with the dead happened can most likely be traced to the 7th century, though, when Pope Boniface IV established All Saints Day (a day to celebrate all the Saints who didnt have their own specific day in the calendar already) in an attempt to replace pagan celebrations of the dead. In 835, Pope Gregory III decided to standardise All Saints Day to November 1st across the Western church; this also cunningly helped to give the old pagan feast of Samhain a new Christian interpretation, and began the association of Samhain with the spirit world. By contrast with the feast of Samhaim, the Catholic holidays of All Saints and All Souls (which falls on November 2nd) were holidays specifically connected with commemorating the dead, which is where many cultures doubtless draw the idea that the veil between the world of the living and the spirits is especially thin during the three days between 31st October and 2nd November.
Medieval Catholics believed that those people who were sin-laden when they died, but were not sufficiently wicked to go to Hell, had to spend time in purgatory. The souls that were trapped in purgatory could be helped on their way to Heaven by their living friends and family, who prayed, collected alms, attended mass and did good deeds on their behalf; the responsibility for getting the dead into Heaven was taken very seriously by communities at this time. One practice that was to develop in England out of the tradition of collecting alms was that of souling, when the poor would go door to door to collect money and soul cakes from the wealthier households in their area to say prayers on behalf of the donators dead family. This practice was still found in parts of northern England as late as the 1930s, and is very likely to be the origin for trick or treating, so perhaps it is not such an Americanism after all! In Scotland, a not entirely dissimilar custom of guising could be found, where children would dress up and perform some kind of entertainment in return for gifts and treats. The trick part of the equation could well be linked to the idea of Mischief Night, which was celebrated in some parts of the UK on November 4th, where children were allowed to play tricks on adults; with the close dates of the different customs, they could have become linked together when exported to North America.
As the spread of Protestantism drove the celebration of Halloween away from the church, people became free the attach their own ideas to it, and given the association with Catholic feasts commemorating the dead, it is perhaps not surprising that ideas about spirits and the occult instead became attached to the day. Once the practice of praying for the souls of the dead was lost, more sinister overtones became associated with Halloween, such as witches, hauntings, ghosts and demons.
One of the less well known associations with Halloween is that of divination. As part of the Celtic calendar, Samhain was considered to be one of the most powerful nights in the year for practising certain forms of fortune telling in connection to marriage in particular. Apples were often used as the feast coincided with the apple harvest, although apples already had many connotations with magic and prophecy in Celtic tradition. One custom was that of bobbing for apples, where apples were floated in a trough of water and the person who managed to bite an apple first would be the first in that group to get married (although I wouldnt put too much emphasis on this as a good way of divining the future according to this tradition, I should have been at the altar years ago, LOL). Another practice that I have come across was that unmarried women should peel an apple on Halloween night, letting the peel come off in one long strip before dropping it to the table over her left shoulder. Whatever letter the apple peel appears most like is the first letter of the name of the person you will marry although if the peel breaks, then you will never marry, so do be careful. If you have already found the one you love, try sharing an apple with them on Halloween to make them love you back! (BTW, all that happened when I tried that was the retort uurrrgggh, I dont like apples). If apples arent to hand, you might like to try the Irish version of Halloween divination. In this game, person is seated blindfolded at a table and offered a choice of saucer, with whichever saucer the person picks being an indication of their future over the coming year: one containing a coin denotes wealth, water indicates travel, earth means a person known to the player will die over the coming year, a bean indicates poverty, etc.
Halloween has unfortunately these days been relegated to a horribly commercialised day, more often celebrated by children as an opportunity to get something from free than anything to do with the actual origins of the day so not that unlike Christmas, really. I personally dont like the idea of trick or treating; giving someone a treat when they were going to say prayers for your dead is a lot different from giving someone a treat to avoid them tricking you (almost a form of protection racket, isnt it?). My house has in the past been egged by children regardless of whether I have cooperated or not, so I shall not be buying treats to hand out this year.
Maybe I will be stocking up on apples, though ;-)
Like many of our traditions Halloween has become so Americanised and Commercialised, I think I much preferred things when they were simple and people made the effort themselves rather than go to a shop and buy a costume or accessories. As I say I'm not in favour of all the Americanisms that are creeping into our British culture, but I suppose that since we are now a multi-racial society one must partake of some of those tiresome American ideas that seem to me to have no moral value and are just another reason for the retail industry to screw us for another few hard earned pounds.
All those strange and fascinating Pagan, Druid and other celebrations have been passed down for centuries and have no doubt lost in the process some of their authenticity, having said this there are some very inventive children out there who have in the last few years made some great efforts to scare both my wife and I on this spookiest of seasons. I really enjoy seeing children enjoying themselves and having oodles of fun and at this time of year when the summer has past and winter winds her weary way to our doorsteps perhaps the answer should be YES. YES because we all need to have a laugh now and then children need to exercise their imagination although in most cases it seems that it is the parents who have put in the most effort.
When I was participating in my younger days the rewards for such devilry were small tokens of appreciation such as nuts and fruit and sometimes small packets of sweets, money was very rarely exchanged and we all seemed to have a good laugh and the odd scary moment. These days the primary reason for the kids to partake is to earn a few bob and I suppose in this day and age that's the norm, but it does kind of distract from what Halloween is all about.
Last year I decided to get my own back so I bought a few of those make-up packs you know the £1 face paints and the like and spooked myself up. I put all the lights out and waited patiently for my first victim. My face was pure white with streams of fake blood dripping from the side of my mouth, my eyelashes were one inch long with spiders hanging eerily from them. To add to the effect I shone a torch upward toward my face from my chin which cast delish shadows across my already scary mush. A few doors along my neighbours son had left the house dressed as a ghost with a little pot to collect his goodies, he was obviously unaware of my intentions and as I watched him slowly walk along the path I felt kind of guilty, but decided to continue with the prank. As he was about to knock on my door I sharply opened it and spookily shouted " What do you want " . It was I this point I realised I had been perhaps a little to realistic in my efforts since the poor little guy almost **** himself and burst into tears. Boy did I feel guilty. I quickly got rid of the make up and caught up with the frightened little chap with some sweets and stuff to make up for my indiscretion. His mother and I had a laugh and after a short time so did he, he said that I had really scared him and that he wasn't going out anymore. A few kind words and a shot of my makeup and he was on his way happy as Larry.
I am really in two minds on whether on not we should still celebrate Halloween I kind of feel that if we cancel Halloween then we have to seriously think about cancelling Christmas as well, so I'm going to say YES lets keep celebrating it but lets just lets the kids do the scaring in future.
Ok, as the Halloween competition has gone on there have been less and less different ideas to write about, so having left it so late to put my final entry in I have resorted to celebrating Halloween on a budget. Not everyone has a stack load of money to buy luscious treats to give out to the kids, nor to buy expensive costumes that adorn the supermarket aisles. So here are my suggestions and ideas that have all been tried before by me and the kids to keep Halloween celebrations to under a tenner!
Please note that the design of the costume will need an adult present and you should never leave children alone with the plastci bags. Ok, if you are going to take the kids out trick or treating or if you are just celebrating indoors, chances are they will want to get dressed up in a suitable scary outfit.
The most obvious outfit for a girl is a witch and the most obvious material to use will be the good old-fashioned bin bag. Everyone has black bags in their cupboard, and for this witches outfit you will need two. The cheapest varieties available are just as good to use as the more expensive ones. Personally I buy 10 large strong black bags for £1 from my local florist, but if you dont have a shop that sells them like that Sainsburys sell a roll of 30 for 74p. Probably useless for putting your rubbish in, but to help your daughter out they are perfect.
Take one bag and fluff it out so it is open. Cut a smallish circle in the bottom of the bag so your childs head can fit through, and one either side for the arms. This creates a kind of tunic that can be synched at the waist with a belt. Dark tights underneath or trousers will complete the basis for the outfit. Open out another black bag and attached to the shoulders of the tunic using cellotape to create a cape. Cut it off at the bottom so it does not trail longer than your child for safety.
To make the hat, use two empty cereal boxes. Open one out flat and make a circle on it large enough to make the brim. Cut it out and then cut out a circle inside large enough to fit your daughters head into. Flatten out the other cereal box and draw a triangle large as you can fit. Cut it out and fold it round into a cone shape and secure with tape. Attach the cone to the rim with lots of tape and then cover with black bag to match the outfit.
The easiest outfit for a boy would be a ghost or a skeleton. The ghost is easier but the skeleton looks better.
To make the ghost you will need white bin bags this time. Again Sainsburys sell a roll of 40 large pedal bin liners for £1.12. Make a tunic in exactly the same way as the witchs costume only this time do not tie at the waist. It looks much more flowy if it is left untied. I would double up the bin bags though as they are a bit thin and it looks whiter if they are doubled up. Get an old white pillowcase and create a hood. Do this by putting on your childs head, making sure the corner of the pillowcase is snuggled onto the top of their head. Mark out where their face is and cut out a shape large enough so that their whole face is exposed. (obviously dont cut it out while it is still on the childs head!) You can put white face paint over your sons face so that it matches the outfit but I have found that they are more comfortable if their whole face is exposed rather than just eyes, mouth etc. Sainsburys again sell face paint for Halloween for around the £1.50 mark, which is reasonable.
To make the skeleton outfit, use black bags again as the main tunic, but you will then need to cut out lots of bone shapes from white paper and stick them onto the black tunic. Obviously arrange them in a skeleton shape and try and cut them out in the right shape, like the ribs and the long thighbone etc. Do the same on the back and then add a design on their faces with face paint to complete the outfit.
Cost of each outfit:
Binbags - £1
Face Paint - £1.50
Other materials should be readily available round the house, like paper, cellotape and cereal boxes.
Total - £2.50
Sainsburys are selling extremely large pumpkins at the moment for £1.99. This would become your main Halloween decoration. Carve it out, being extremely careful and pop a tea light or two inside once it gets dark for a really seasonal glow from your front door. I have put mine outside the door but in the least windy spot possible to avoid the candle being blown out all the time. The tealights are £0.49 for 10 in, yep you guessed it, Sainsburys!
Buy a large pleat of cotton wool from Sainsburys for 70p and basically pull it apart, draping it over your front door and windows. Attached it by trapping edges in the window frame before closing them and on the front door, use a little masking tape. It will eventually, with a little designing, look like spiders web all over the place. If you have any toy spiders or bats, attach these to the web and it will look extremely inviting to trick or treaters.
Cost of decorations:
Pumpkin - £1.99
Tealights - £0.49
Cotton Wool - £0.70
Total - £3.18
--Food & Treats
I always make my children have a proper dinner before we go out trick or treating, to minimise the amount of sweets they stuff themselves with and end up not wanting dinner. To make it scarier you can opt for a colourful dinner. Make red mashed potatoes using food colouring when you mash it, coupled with blue food colouring spread thinly over chicken breasts to make beetles, and lastly I usually give them peas and tell them they are bats droppings. No changes necessary, after all how many kids know what colour bats dropping are? This will cost you 64p for the two food colourings, as the dinner would be served anyway.
Instead of buying expensive treats to give to any callers to your house, make fairy cakes as an alternative. A simple recipe can be found on the Internet with ease and you can get the kids to help make them in advance. Decorate them with writing icing in a Halloween theme and colours to make them as scary as possible. Once cooked, cooled and decorated pop one or two in a small plastic food bag and tie the top with a little ribbon (or cellotape if you dont have ribbon). Get the kids to colour in some hand drawn pumpkins and other Halloween themed pictures and stick it on the front of the bag. A lovely alternative to sweets for trick or treaters.
If you are not good at making cakes like me then buy plain fairy cakes from Sainsburys (69p for 12) and decorate those instead. The plastic sandwich bags are 89p for 60 and the writing icing is £1.99. So to make 24 fairy cakes to give out to callers it will cost you £4.26 and the idea I think is interesting and will give the kids something else to be involved in during the preparations.
So there you go, for under a tenner you can dress the kids, decorate your home and give treats to the little callers at your door.
Obviously I shop at Sainsburys so have quoted their prices but I am sure Tesco and Asda and loads of other supermarkets sell the items I have written about, allowing you to pick up alternatives at a shop near you.
Enjoy Halloween, dont get commercialised about it. Have fun with the kids and get them to help out in the preparations. It is good honest fun and make sure you go trick or treating with them!
The birth of Deraj the dark guide was a silent affair lost deep in the woods the event was only captured by a solitary group of amateur film makers on a poor quality hand held digital camcorder. The group was filming in the wood as part of a film assignment called The Which Crown Project and they had become hopelessly lost within the dark confines of the ancient wood which was also rumoured to contain within its dark interior the castle lair of the fabled crown maker Enna.
As the wind whipped up through the trees the bloody birth of Deraj was witnessed as he emerged from the loins of Ooyood, instantly white apparitions appeared and a terrible siren sound emanated from their deformed mouths which melted the very skin from the film makers bodies until all that remained was a mangled pulp of human flesh yet still the camera remained suspended in mid air in the invisible grip of the master ghoul Hself Sgoh and in the still all seeing lens another image appeared as Deraj reached into the human remains and produced a single golden crown that contained all of the powers of the other crowns but also contained the dark powers drawn from the vaults of Oaic.
For day the crown remained hidden however on the dawning of Lundi in the fourth tri-mester it found its way into the possession of a buxom young wench Yttam, a lover of all creatures who had recently suffered the loss of her favourite hamster Twiddles in a freak exercise ball tragedy which had also claimed the life of Puddles the cat as both pets were found bloated and wrinkled at the bottom of the families Olympic sized swimming pool. Overjoyed with the crown Yttam took it down to the burial area at the bottom of her garden as part of her day always involved talking to her fallen pets. As she neared the pets cemetery a dark sky started to gather over the area and the wind began to stir in the trees however smiling for the first time since her loss Yttam was only pleased to be near her former friends and was even more delighted that she could hear a feint meowing from the sodden leaf strewn ground as it her loving Puddles was trying to return to her, suddenly from the ground thrust two razor sharp sets of teeth which ripped through her larynx in an orgy of violence.
Once again the crown lay alone until the following lundi when it was passed to a intrepid traveller Ulam who took the crown on their next flight however the plane became infested with robotic pythons from a travelling snake exhibit and all of the passengers were attacked and bitten in a feeding frenzy which saw the plane crash into the Andes mountains.
The crown next passed into the hands of Mas, a lover of music, delighted at the fortunate arrival of the crown she decided to run slowly through a number of sprinklers that were switched on in her garden as a sign of her joy and happiness however from the depths of her garden emerged a horde of flesh eating zombies who were fans of the Grateful Dead and had lost the use of their brains due to a heavy diet of drugs and lentils. At first Mas mounted a spirited defence of her body using old 45s and picture discs however when these ran out she found her i-pod offered little protection against the flesh eating zombies and soon she was being consumed at the table of Deraj.
Over time the crown passed on to many others but none could control its evil, Maxorp was lost when a home brew kit exploded with such force that the flesh was ripped from his body while Sugna choked on a huge plate of cherry bath bombs that kept regurgitating themselves, suffocating him in a huge frothy mass that was pleasantly tingly nice in certain parts of the body but lethal in others and not forgetting Nhojnek who was cruelly struck down by a bolt of lightening on a clear summers day on the 18th at Augusta as he was on the verge of a two yard tap in to set a course record.
But news of the crowns evil spread throughout the country and there was one who sought the evil crown. His obsession new no limits and he devoted his life to recovering it, his name was Van Bres Suru a polish crown hunter and wooer of maidens good and fair. His ability to seek out truth and leap tall buildings took him to the inner sanctum of Ooyood and defeating the evil Deraj with the use of a holy bible, a wooden stake and the sword of Hercules he was able to caste the evil crown into the fires of Tipton and bring an end to the evil reign.
All characters in this review are purely fictional and any similarity to past or present members of Dooyoo is purely coincidental. No animals were harmed in the writing of this review other than where absolutely necessary to the development of the plot. Any comparison to any horror films including Breakfast at Bernies is purely coincidental.
Dedicated to the memory of Puddles 1995 2006. Gone but not yet dried out.
I would like to thank the makers of Absolut who assisted me greatly in the writing of this review.
Happy haunting and thanks for reading.
Disclaimer: Mr. Horrorshow is a fictional persona and, as such, you really shouldn't listen to a thing he says. :end disclaimer:
HI KIDS! It's me, Mr. Horrorshow, here to help you with all of your Halloween shopping needs. While I know a few readers are still recovering from last week's extensive look at how NOT to carve a pumpkin (Go to Crazy Nubbie's for all your chainsaw needs), I couldn't bring myself to give you younglings some time off. This week we're going to look at an often overlooked accessory to your lurking desires. You've spent weeks preparing your lair. Cobwebs and mysterious fumes set to your exact specifications. The coffins and torture implements are arranged just as any Feng Shui master would. The villagers are already lining up outside with their torches and pitchforks....yet something just isn't right. Your bust of Bela Lugosi just doesn't seem to bring you the joy that it used to. What are you looking for?
The answer: Companionship. Now, I know what you're thinking. It's time for you to kidnap some young virgin or just build one out of parts you've got lying around. Sure, the Frankenhooker solution looks nice, but take a deep breath and look at the resources you have available to you. Do you really want to put up with a young hero, valiantly kicking in your door and tracking mud all over your Persian rug? And yeah, the zombie lover has some advantages, but do you really want to ALWAYS have to wear that "intimacy helmet" to prevent them from eating your brain when it's time for some loving? Romantic companionship might sound...well, romantic. Because it is. But romance, if Bram Stoker has taught us anything, is the grand undoing to any of us creatures of the night. I'm not saying you shouldn't be out there looking for the right girl or ghoul, but I think there's a safer and more dynamic alternative out there that many children of darkness overlook these days.
Yes, you really should think about getting a pet. The options for the modern nightcrawler are more numerous that ever before. No matter your budget, mad scientist and sewer dweller alike will easily be able to find a pet matching their personality and dementia. Below you'll find the most common infernal pet varieties, along with helpful tips on how to keep them from staining the velvet curtains in front of company.
1. The Vampire Bat: Easy to feed and a great conversation piece.
How can you go wrong with the Cadillac of horrific pets? Nothing says "I am on a first name basis with the night" like having a vampiric bat.
Now, when you visit the local bestiary, it is very important that you get an authentic VAMPIRE bat. Too many a fiend has looked the fool when his obscenely large winged minion swooped from the shadows to devour an apricot in front of friends. The hint here is that biggest is not always best. The largest of Chiroptera family are all fruit-munchers, including that wicked cool one from The Neverending Story. So, no matter what the sales Igor says, always perform the arm test. If you hold out your arm and the flying critter goes to bite you, that means he's definitely of the sanguine variety. It also means he likes you...which brings me to my next point.
The biggest benefit of having a vampire bat (besides being able to tell your friends that you have a vampire bat) is that they're incredibly easy to feed. In fact, they often will feed themselves without your having to worry about it. Of course the squeamish out there might at first be put off at having a parasite pet, but you've really got to understand that once something's drunk your blood a few times, it'll consider you family. Hell, it's a lot like how a baby animal will bond with anyone that nurses it to health. (Note: Mr. Horroshow does not condone the "Motherhood" method of feeding, as it's both disturbing and damaging to the nipples.)
Finally, you should take time to determine that your new pet is indeed a vampire bat, and not just a vampire screwing with you. This can easily be determined by any vet with a method commonly used on birds known as "sexing." Few vampires swing this way, so it's a pretty secure way to find out. (If you do end up having a vampire that swings this way, leave the room as quickly as possible and start shoving garlic into any available orifice. I won't go into detail, but with much reflection, I've realized that what happened to me back at K17 could have been avoided if I'd thought of this sooner.)
If a vet won't talk to you (most likely due to some unholy spawn that ate her assistants last June), more conventional methods are available. Unfortunately, most of these routes to determining a vampire bat from a vampire are, shall we say, inherently flawed. Toban's Guide to Spooky Stuff states that you can identify a vampire by how they crumble to dust when you separate their head from their body. Of course, most of Toban's advice involves the "Oh, live and learn" factor. (For those not in the know, Toban's the guy who says Witches sink and Republicans won't burn no matter how much lighter fluid you douse them in. Yeah, he's got problems.) My home solution to this conundrum is fairly simple. Put a copy of "Dracula 2000" in your DVD player (or psychtronic videophone if you're of the retro persuasion). If your bat freaks the hell out and breaks your TV in half....you've got a vampire. The children of Cain have that whole ego thing, and nothing pisses them off quite like a bad vampire movie. Not that I'm judgmental. Some of my best friends are vampires. But hell, there's a reason stereotypes exist. Back on topic...
Maybe a bat is just a bit too cliché for you....or just not involved enough for your companion needs. On the opposite end of the spectrum you'll find the ghosts with the most:
2. The Poltergeist: Nothing quite makes a party like the restless dead.
Now, if you're a creature with too much time on your hands and have a taste for danger (and who doesn't), then getting yourself a full-fledged class 3 haunting may be the way to go. Getting the ghost in the first place is often the most difficult part. Before digging through the city records to see what horrible things happened in your flat (those things that happened before you moved in, of course), definitely take time to stroll through your dungeon/lair/bungalow to make sure you don't have one lying around. You'd be surprised at how many folks out there go to the trouble to import an Indian Burial Mound in their front yard only to find out there's a small Japanese girl haunting their guest bathroom.
Also don't overlook the possibility of just pissing off the dead until they come to stay with you. It took me months of talking bad about Peter's grandmother (and her inherent sexiness) until she started haunting me properly. With a little effort (and trashtalk), you can get just about anyone as a poltergeist. Just remember to keep at it.
Once you've got the afterlife manifesting within your domicile, it's a good idea to manage it. You have to be strict with spirits or they'll never learn to behave. Sure, it's funny when they strangle a guest with a sock monkey, but such behavior unchecked leads to uncontrollable poltergeists that will eventually just start spraying ectoplasm everywhere the next time they're in heat. The best disciplinary tool is a classic one. Take the holiest book you have (Bible or Koran, whatever), roll it up, and give that spook a swift rap on the nose. Eventually, they'll associate this with misbehaving and before you know it, your poltergeist will be rearranging furniture and making the walls bleed on command.
3. The Mythologicals: Make the neighbors jealous with a Hobbit on a leash.
The elitist pet owner will invariable be lured by the exotic promise a mythic pet offers. In a world of shadows and eternal twilight, simply having a leprechaun or troll in your apartment is worth its weight in gold, if you'll forgive the expression. While I don't have much experience in this department, I can imagine such pets require a lot of attention and have rather specific dietary requirements. I'm willing to bet that few of you knew that unicorns live off a diet of baby dung...a fact that most unicorn owners are more than familiar with.
I wish I could give you more advice on these guys, but I don't condone fairies.
4. The Undead: For the pet owner with a busy schedule and too much in his brain.
I really can't recommend undead pets enough. You don't have to feed them, they keep the villagers at bay, and they'll never whiz on the carpet. The downside to these perks, as you might already know, is, of course, the smell. Having had quite a few of these in my lifetime, I can honestly say that if you can tolerate the funk of ferrets, then having a rotting corpse as a house pet isn't a big deal at all. Undead creatures come in all shapes and sizes. While you might be tempted to simply get a zombie dog or cat, you'll be surprised at the possibilities once you stop thinking inside the box. Can't think of the right pet? Build your own, Frankenstein-style. This method (often called the Tim Burton maneuver) simply means grabbing some spare pet parts (like all those headless vampire bats that you proved weren't vampires) and volting them into a lifetime companion. Don't be limited by mother nature, either. Dr. Fashing, my dentist, fashioned himself a chinchilla that's nothing but legs. Sure, it's a little weird to have a pet with no eyes....but it's soft, fuzzy, and funny as hell to see try to run around.
For the most brazen of pet owners, one should never underestimate the entertainment value of having a full-sized real life zombie, Frankenstein, or even mummy. According to Congress, the undead don't qualify as human, as such, the morbid industries have responded quickly in making them available to anyone who wants one....making them cheap, affordable, and most importantly: Legal. Before 2002, you couldn't walk down the street with your recently spayed mummified Atep Ho Tep without getting in trouble. Since then the popularity and social understanding involving having a dead human as a pet has become widespread. Even better, they're easy to train and too slow to run far if you forget to close the back gate.
5. Were-creatures: The companion with the Lunar Surprise!
Before I explain the joy and annoyance behind these guys, let's clear something right now. The whole idea of a human being turning into a wolf...that's just silly and a little retarded. I don't know how these rumors get started. Werewolves are just wolves that get to be humans once every full moon, albeit humans a bit hairier than Robin Williams. Were-pets are very similar to these: Normal, boring pets that once a month can actually hold up their end of the conversation...and maybe eat some villagers while they're at it. Nothing gives you an excuse to cause some mayhem and spend a night on the town because your pet bunny is going to go all shapeshifty on you. I've got a few friends with were-pets. Asmodeus and his were-gerbil spend most full moons living it up in a bottle while Sabrina and her were-cockatiel spend a romantic evening by candlelight. I try not to judge, really I do.
Were-pets are perfect for the most domestic of folk....those that still need the occasional wild night to keep life interesting.
Honorable Mention: Goldfish of the Black Lagoon.
While I've always been a fan of fishmen, menfish sort of strike me as a redundant pet. As if goldfish aren't suicidal enough with their "jump out of the tank" antics, imagine having a tiny goldfish with arms, legs, and a libido. If you must have one, make sure you put one of those topless mermaids in the tank. That'll keep the poor lungless fish distracted and his thoughts off of exploring the distinctly "water-free" and dangerous world around him.
Well, that's it for this installment. Check back soon for our special on Cannibalism. Meet your friends or eat your friends? Find out next week.
(...occasionally known as Jared. This was written for dooyoo as a Halloween variantion of the top 5 pets topic. Obviously it got waylaid at some point and came back a very different creature. I may post it in other places that I dwell online...in case you need to know that kind of thing.)
I don't celebrate Halloween but I've doctored a favourite recipe I was sent to go with the occasion. Enjoy!
Vodka & Baileys Halloween Cake
1 cup water
1 cup of brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp salt
Lots of butter
4 large eggs
1 bottle of Vodka
1 bottle of Baileys
2 cups dried fruit
1 Halloween mask
1. Sample the vodka to check the quality.
2. Take a large bowl, check the vodka again.
3. To be sure it is of the highest quality, pour one level cup and mix with a large shot of Baileys.
4. Repeat steps 1 - 3 then move to step 5.
5. Turn on the electric mixer, beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl.
6. Add one teaspoon of sugar. Beat again.
7. At this point it is best to make sure the vodka is still ok to the taste.
8. Flavour with 5 tablespoons of Baileys to taste.
9. Try another equal mix of vodka and Bailey - just in case, turn off the mixerer.
10. Put on the Halloween mask, scare the neighbours cat by screaming at it.
11. Apologise to the neighbours.
12. Break two leggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit.
13. Pick fruit off floor.
14. Mix on the turner.
15. Take of the Malloween hask.
16. If the dried fruit gets stuck in the beaterers, pry it loose with a drewscriver.
17. Shample the vodka to check for tonsisticitity, flavour with a little Baileys.
18. Next ssiffft two cups of salt. Or something Who giveshz a shi*?
19. Throw a pinch of Raileys over your shoulder.
20. Pick up the floor, drink the mop.
21. Check the vodka.
22. Now shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts.
23. Add one table.
24. Hask on the Malloween put.
25. Drink some mask, put on the vodka, or the Daileys.
26. Add a shpoon of shugar, or sumfink, woteva you can find.
27. Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over.
28. Don't forget to beat off the turner.
29. Finally, throw the bowl through the window, finish the modka, Daileys and feed the mask, take off the cat and kick the oven.
30. Bed into fall.
Call me Scrooge-like, call me mean,
But I just don't like Halloween.
Call me, if you will, a grinch,
For, given half a chance, I'd pinch
This wretched festival and hide it
Far out of sight. I can't abide it
When young extortionists come knocking.
It's criminal as well as shocking.
Don't tell me they're just playing pranks;
Those copying the beastly Yanks'
Trick-or-treat protection racket
Deserve a good kick up the bracket
To teach them not to be so naughty.
Call me pompous, call me haughty
(It comes of being over forty -
All right, plus a decade or two,
Let me confess it, lest you knew)
I can't face eating squashy pumpkins,
A food not even fit for bumpkins
When followed by tooth-rotting candy;
Unless washed down with swigs of brandy
This seems like a cuisine from hell.
Meanwhile, the scooped-out pumpkin-shell,
As lantern having served its time,
Will end up full of sooty slime
Its face caved in as if by bludgeon.
Call me grumpy, a curmudgeon:
You'll find me skulking in high dudgeon
Come October Thirty-First,
Blood vessels bulging, fit to burst.
I'm all for parties. Making merry
Is something I delight in; very
Much the sort of thing I like
But fancy dress can take a hike
When it consists of sheet and mask
What kind of ghost is this? I ask.
A blatant fake! All costumes ghoulish
Only end up looking foolish
Deserving no more than a snort.
Call me a killjoy spoilsport.
There are some things that really ought
Be left alone. Our autumn feast
In England's pleasant land at least,
Is Guy Fawkes' Night, with firework fun,
We just don't need another one.
I'm not complaining of the witches;
I'm not the kind of nut who bitches
That it's Satanist or pagan,
Or from the land of Ronald Reagan,
But Halloween's the one to dump
It ought to take a running jump.
It's simply nasty and obscene
And fit for nought but the latrine,
The fetid fete of Halloween.
© duncantorr 2006
(Also published under the name torr on Ciao UK)
~ ~ That time of the year is nearly upon us once again. The 31st October is celebrated the world over as Halloween, or to give it its proper title "All Hallow's Eve", which over the centuries was abbreviated to Hallow's Eve. (Or een)
Most people in modern times simply see Halloween as a fun time for the kids, when they get the opportunity to dress up as witches and warlocks and goblins and ghouls, to have a Halloween party with their friends, and to go round the local neighbourhood tricking and treating, or putting on little shows in order to gather some extra pocket money. (In my own young days back in Scotland it was called guising.) But Halloween is far more than that. In reality its a very ancient pagan festival which right up to the present day is celebrated the world over by Satanists and the powers of evil in our world, and which should be shunned by all Christians and right thinking people.
I was inspired to write this piece after a short discussion on one of the threads over at the dooyoo Guide Group about Satanism and black magic. (Dont ask how we managed to get on this topic. Were a strange lot at the best of times!)
~ ~ Halloween is a pagan festival that some say goes back to about 300 years before Christ and which is believed to have originated with the old Celts of Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland. Its original name in the old Celtic/Druid tradition was Samhain, and it was in honour of the old lord of death (guess who *HE* was), who the Celts believed gathered together all the condemned souls at Halloween to give them the opportunity to possess the bodies of living people. The ancients believed that these tortured souls could be appeased by the leaving out of food and by providing shelter for them for the evening. If the evil spirits were happy with your efforts then you were left in peace for another year. If not, then you were in danger of becoming possessed, or having all sorts of evil curses and spells cast on you and your family.
~ ~ Back in the 8th century the then Pope, attempting to dispel the old pagan rituals and integrate them into Christian tradition, took over the old Roman Pantheon in Rome from the pagans and turned it into a new Cathedral called the Church of the Blessed Virgin and All Martyrs. He instigated a new Christian holy day called All Saints Day, that was intended to honour all the martyrs of the early Church who were persecuted by the Romans. This was initially celebrated on the eve of the 13th May, but in 835 this was later changed to the 1st November, and the feast became more commonly known as All Hallows Day, the day when all the hallowed saints were honoured. From this came All Hallows Eve, or Halloween.
~ ~ But the new Christian version of the old pagan ceremony never really caught on, and many of the old pagan rituals persisted, in no small measure because many of them were actually adopted and adapted by the Catholic Church in order to win new converts to Christianity. For this the Church has much to answer for, not so much because they tried to integrate the festival into the Christian calendar back in the mists of time, but because even to the present day they continue to perpetuate the dangerous myth that the celebration of Halloween is simply harmless fun. Many churches even allow Halloween parties in their church halls, thus unwittingly allowing sacred ground to be used for a pagan/Satanist ritual! For this there can be no excuse!
~ ~ The Middle Ages in particular was a huge growth period for the practice of Satanism and all types of sorcery, witchcraft and black magic. Black masses abounded, and Halloween became one of the most important dates on the Satanist calendar, (along with a Satanists own birthday) when all the forces of evil gathered together. It is celebrated by Satanists as the actual devils birthday, and they believe that Halloween is the time when it is easiest to conjure up evil spirits, demons, and even Old Nick himself, as its the time when the veil between the material and the spirit world is at its thinnest.
~ ~ If you doubt that Satanism exists in todays modern culture, and still believe that Halloween is simply a harmless kids festival, then a simple Internet search will soon shatter your illusions. Not since the Middle Ages has Satanism experienced such a massive growth, its most fertile hunting ground being our impressionable young people, who to a large extent feel let down by traditional religion and are turning more and more to alternative religions to satisfy their spiritual urges and needs. From alternative religions to Satanism and devil worship is a smaller step than you might imagine, and once embroiled with Satanists it is very difficult to escape their clutches!
There are literally countless thousands of well documented cases of evil practices which would appear to reach their zenith around the time of Halloween. Young children are often abducted, or else specially bred within Satanist groups, with the sole purpose of using them in a Black Mass which culminates in the ritual sacrifice of the child. Animals are regularly used as sacrifices, which has led to many police forces throughout the world issuing warnings to people to keep a special watch over their pets at this time of the year.
Heres just a small extract from one of the many documented cases where an ex-Satanist is being interviewed, and is asked about the significance of Halloween.
QUESTION: How was it celebrated?
ANSWER: Always with a blood sacrifice. Some of the lesser covens would use animals, but the Brotherhood always used a human. In fact, it was a three-day affair. On Oct. 29, an animal was sacrificed. On the 3Oth, an animal and a human of lesser purity were killed and on the 3lst the slow, tortured death of the most pure human available, preferably a virgin, was the centre of the frenzied ritual. Usually it is a baby born for this purpose by a mother in the craft called a breeder.
QUESTION: Most Christians see Halloween as just another party time. What connection is there between such rituals and trick-or-treating?
ANSWER: For one thing, the symbolism of witches, goblins, etc. glorify Satan. Christians have no business being involved in this. Secondly, the increase in injuries from sabotaged treats is not accidental. Satanists are using it to increase the blood sacrifices on this special day. Satan is so mad at God that he will not overlook any opportunity to bring destruction to God's creatures. The more he can kill the better he likes it. (Excerpt © Battle Cry Magazine 1989)
You might have noticed that the ex-Satanist also talks about sabotaged treats. This is another sinister aspect of Halloween that is unfortunately becoming more prevalent. Satanists and their bedfellows insert razor blades into sweets and fruit, which they then give out to unsuspecting youngsters! Another new adaptation of this sick ploy is to spike treats with hallucinogenic drugs! Anything that will cause pain and suffering, and thus glorify their evil master, is fair game to these lost souls.
~ ~ Of course, the argument can be made that Satanism is in fact an alternative religion, and as such is no better or worse than any other religion such as Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, etc. and that they have the perfect right to celebrate Halloween or any other festival in the same way as Christians venerate Easter and Christmas. Even if you happen to agree with that statement (and I personally dont) it doesnt excuse the fact that Halloween, a blatantly and openly pagan and Satanic festival, is being celebrated all over the world by people who profess the Christian faith, and who by doing so are putting their immortal souls in danger of eternal damnation! *ALL* the symbols of Halloween, including the donning of costumes including witches, demons, imps and devils, the carrying of lanterns, (hollowed out turnips) the decorations such as skeletons and skulls, and the games such as apple bobbing and trick and treating, have Satanic and pagan origins, and should be shunned by anyone who professes the Christian faith. For instance, apple bobbing was/is an ancient fertility rite, which supposedly allows the participant to see into the future and gain a vision of the person they will eventually mate with! Trick and treating was instigated by the Druids, who for a fee/food/favour, would supposedly give a household protection from Satanic influence for the coming year. (Conversely, if you DIDNT pay their toll, you could/would be afflicted by all sorts of evil!)
~ ~ In the politically correct times we live in, it sometimes seems a case can be made for ANY alternative religion or lifestyle. Indeed, only a couple of years back (2004) an openly professed Satanist successfully applied to be allowed to perform Satanic rituals on board a Royal Navy vessel where he was serving. He has now applied to the Ministry of Defence to allow Satanism to be recognised as a registered religion within the armed forces! (Source/BBC News) The mind boggles, and I cant help wondering where all this politically correct nonsense will all end. Next thing you know youll have paedophiles lobbying Parliament to have their repugnant practices made legal! (In fact, many paedophiles also practice Satanism, or vice versa)
The modern Church of Satan was founded in San Francisco by a fellow called LaVey back in 1967, but, of course, there are many different branches and covens of this evil sect, and Satanism has been practiced ever since Lucifer (the light bearer and fallen angel) was banished from Heaven by God. Its Nine Satanic Statements are the credo by which most modern-day Satanists live their lives. They include Satan represents vengeance instead of turning the other cheek, Satan represents indulgence instead of abstinence, and Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification. Its not too hard to see the appeal they would have in modern-day society, where instant gratification of all desires seems to be the stated goal of many!
The Satanist creed was summed up by Aleister Crowley (1875 1947) a self-professed Satanist who actually dubbed himself the Beast, and in his day was described by the media as the wickedest man in the world. One of his best known statements was Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. In other words, *NOTHING* is sacrosanct, and a Satanist can do anything they please that brings them self-gratification as they consider themselves above the laws of both God and man!
~ ~ If you are one of the people who will be innocently celebrating Halloween come the 31st October, and who still consider this festival as simply a time for a bit of fun and a party, then perhaps this small contribution of mine will have given you some food for thought. What you are actually doing is adding your own contribution to a festival that celebrates evil in all its shapes and forms, and in which the Devil rejoices!
If you are actually a Christian, and still celebrate Halloween, then I would earnestly urge you to stop immediately, and to encourage any other Christians you know to do the same.
© KenJ October 2006
From: Deputy Head of Mission, Ingerland, Earth
To: Department of Colonisation Research, Arcturus 9
Since the sudden disappearance of our Head of Mission, Sven, it falls to me to report some alarming developments in the activities of the simian life forms in this sector. Normally we would have turned to Svens wisdom and intuition in interpreting these happenings but now we can only submit them to you with some tentative explanations as to their meaning.
1. There has been a sudden eruption of orange coloured globular excrescences across the land. Although these are found in proximity to foodstuffs they do not seem to be used for sustenance. We think they may be intended for the Special Game played by the Special Ones. One of our researchers picked up the fact that there are moves to make the Special Game more interesting by not having a totally round object; the resulting aberrant and unexpected bounces have been much discussed. Another alternative being trialled was the use of individual Special Ones heads (albeit still attached to their bodies), but we think this experiment has now been abandoned.
2. Much black garb is in evidence. This could signal another of the periodic shedding of the coloured coats by the Special Ones and the growing of new ones. The rest of the inhabitants, especially the young, are required to copy them, with resulting pressure on the local economy and the system of barter they use. We have seen evidence of this pressure again lately. Interestingly, black is the colour of the coat favoured by the Rule Enforcers in the Special Game and this would tie in with the increased tendency by the Special Ones to enforce the rules themselves.
3. This time the new coats are accompanied by face coverings. This development had us puzzled, and we thought at first that they might be for protection. I am grateful to my colleague who pointed out the resemblance of these coverings to many of the Special Ones. A stranger development is the appearance of wooden sticks beside the black barb and face coverings; see note 4a below.
4. A new phrase has entered their language and is much heard at the moment. We are still trying to decipher it and its possible meaning. Suggestions so far are:
a. Stick or Feet. This would explain the appearance of the wooden sticks and could herald the next phase of development of the Special Game.
b. Thicker Pleat. Possibly a reference to the new erratic bounce experiment, and the need to alter further the shape of the orange globe, or the field on which the Special Game is played.
c. Trick or Treat. An option to be given by the Rule Enforcer when a Special One breaks the Rules.
5. Accompanying this new phrase is the endless repetition of the numbers 2, 3, 4 and 5 in varying permutations. This is where we miss the insight of Sven, and despite having run these through our available computer programmes I have to report that none of them produces any results whatsoever.
Our team has researched Earths sacred writings in Google, Wikipedia and The Sun to establish why all these developments should have occurred at this time. There are references to a time of dread and fear, and this seems to peak in a biennial cycle, followed by a time of optimism when calm is restored. The myths speak of wandering wolves, broom-witches from both west and east threatening albion, and the return of the wizard Matthews. This extreme period of two halves naturally involves some upheaval among the life forms and may explain some of the strange rituals. The time of optimism after the fear seems to be heralded by the Saints, who in the Special Game remain quiescent until this point in the cycle when there is the possibility of the premier order being overturned.
In conclusion, I have to request some urgent guidance as to our conduct and to ensure the safety of the Mission. One option may be to activate the deep sleeper agent who calls himself Johnredwood.
I would also like to request a transfer back to home base as soon as a window of opportunity is available, and make way for a younger Arcturian more able to cope with the many unexplained upheavals in this culture. In this regard I would recommend Mack-larren, one of my team members. You may recall his brilliant analysis of the new phrase What a winker: his acumen in realising that it referred to a Special Ones special ball skills makes him the obvious choice for the position to pursue our understanding of this sector of planet Earth.
Halloween was never celebrated here in this part of France, until recently, commerces realised the potential in selling costumes, and the food markets decided that Halloween merited special food and a tradition was created. The French love traditions and introducing yet another one was never a problem for them. School children here in France look forward to Halloween, and the pressure upon parents to buy them the latest costume really has started to be a worry. Gone are the home made costumes and in are the masks, witches hair, plastic incredible hulk outfits, and paints that glow in the night.
The village marked the coming of Halloween with balloons in orange, and yellow, tied to lamp-posts along the main approach to the village, and pumpkins, hollowed out by the tiny hands of school children, the faces being cut by adults who are more adept with the knife, adorn the church walls, and the night of the Masked Ball is marked by the faces which illuminate the path to the village hall. It's party time, and as with many events here in a small village, the locals have learned to adapt an event to suit themselves.
The ghosts and witches seem to get smaller each year. Maywen was the youngest at 2 years old, dressed in the costume of a pixie, though I was never sure what the significance was. The pixie serves the witches, explained her sister, Audrey who was dressed to the nines as one of the wickedest witches in the village. Her hat was black and pointed, her face had been made up by an artist and was yellowy in colour and her eyes surrounded by black markings. Her robe touched the floor, and her brother, Marcel, stood behind her casting spells with a huge wand. I shall turn her into a frog, he said, which I thought was irony itself. His hat was bigger than that of his sister and sported huge stars, and he wore a white beard and a mischievous expression.
Marc arrived pissed and propped up the bar.
Maywen began to cry. Audrey got impatient and tugged at her hand in a witchy manner, so in keeping with the character she portrayed. Murielle dressed in black with skeleton bones all over the costume which lit up in the darkness, though her blonde hair spoiled the illusion. Giving up the witch illusion for a moment, Murielle found that bribery worked better and offered her sister a piece of dry baguette, which seemed to calm her.
There was to be a parade, and the children lined up ready to take their place before the impatient parents, who had dressed up in costume as well, though the Halloween theme was somehow escaped by many. Murielles' mother dressed as Little Bow Peep, and her father in traditional Breton Costume as he was playing in the Band. Mimi had decided that a cowboy hat and line dancing outfit was the order of the day and Eric had dressed as a policeman, though his drinking habits might have shocked the local constabulary.
Marc by this time was sitting propped up by a stool, knowing that his legs will fail him if he moves.
The lights went down, the curtains on the stage twitched, and a drum roll revealed the parade ! A ghost or two, maybe even three passed upon the stage, together with witches and wizards, skeletons and even a fairy with her paper skirt torn, and flowers in her hair. All around the hall, lights had been subdued as each child took their turn in explaining who they were. Parents clapped and drank, music played, and prizes were found for everyone that entered. Everyone clapped as Maywen stood silent next to her sister and got stage fright.
Then came the offering of sweets, and unlike the trick or treat habits of larger towns, here it is the children that walk around with baskets of sweets to offer to visitors, although magic spells soon made Marcel's sweet offerings disappear quicker than anyone elses.
Poems and songs.
When the children sang their Halloween songs, it was enchanting. It wasn't the fact that their harmonies were particularly good. It was the participation and the seriousness of each child trying their best. Some recited simple verse, some sang in small groups, and then food was served, and a hush fell over the village hall whilst Jacques looked for suitable music for during the meal and decided upon a mixture of Barry Manilow, Abba and Bee Gees.
Ladies that had worked all afternoon peeling potatoes and vegetables now served tables, as a feast was put before the guests of a Pot au Feu, or pot of fire, suitable to the occasion, and deliciously warming on an October's evening, the tables adorned with lanterns and pumpkins, and the atmosphere congenial.
At around 11.00 in the evening, the children were taken home weary, believing that those witches and wizards that stay awake beyond midnight would indeed be turned to stone. Tired ghosts with stained costumes, witches with crooked hats, and little Maywen (who by this time was too tired to cry), all took the road through the village towards their homes, ready to put the ghosts away for another year.
The pumpkins twinkling lights were all that was left of the Halloween evening, though what rested beyond the wall of the churchyard, only those brave enough to discover will ever know.
A bicycle sat in the middle of the village street, a haunting reminder never to drive whilst drunk. Marc managed to get a lift home, whilst his dog guarded the bike.
It's simple, it's safe (for the most part). It's Halloween how it is in this part of the world.
When I was little, I was entranced by the American TV programmes I watched on our crappy little telly. - For any younger readers, these were the days before the remote control, we had imagination (and fewer channels) back then and ingeniously used pool cues and broom handles. - Programmes like The Wonder Years and films like Hocus Pocus taught me the magical lesson of Trick or Treat? As a very young child, this seemed to me like yet another Santa or Tooth Fairy. Pure magic and something for nothing.
To my great disappointment, my parents refused to take me out to do this and dismissively referred to it as Americanised begging. In hindsight of course, they were right. At the time they made up for it by arranging other special Halloween treats like having a friend round to bob for apples (healthy) or party games (exercise). Yes, nice one. I was happy enough with this for a while, but as I grew older, I secretly wanted a sack full of sweets and the opportunity to terrorise people in their own homes. What could be more fun than sugar activated naughtiness, legitimised by Halloween?
The parental approach of keeping me indoors and occupied, worked throughout primary school. Some friends who lived nearby had suffered the same fate and theyd hatched a brilliant plan. They would plead with those in charge of them that they just wanted to dress up and show off. They would swear blind that they wanted, not to get sweets, but to dish out fruit to old grannies instead.
Yes, a cross between the Harvest Festival and the school play. This meant they were allowed out to allegedly give out a large bag of apples and oranges. And what little old lady, confronted with children who are not only dressed up, but kind and selfless, isnt going to give them something? It was a gem of an idea for them (not the sharpest tools in the box) and they did well out of it. Ill never forget their smug faces as I enviously watched them trot past the front window with a little bag of apples and 2 carrier bags of sweets.
A few years later and a teenager, I thought we were all grown out of such childish pastimes but this couldnt have been further from the truth. Id just about got over the sense of injustice and convinced myself that sweets were sweets. One Thursday, I was sat in science when I heard the two boys behind discussing the previous evening. .I made £11 last night, we need to try harder . I was intrigued and turned round. Adam , I demanded how did you make that much money?. My paper round at the time made £3.80 a week and that involved rain and 30 papers, Monday to Friday.
Pi** off snapped Adams friend Kevin, an underdeveloped weasel who hadnt yet realised the point of talking to girls. But it was too late, I wasnt the only one whod overheard. Our teacher, keen on class participation, instructed Adam the show-off to tell the class what hed been talking about. Adam leapt to his feet and in a beautiful act of public speaking, told us all how he planned to get rich this Halloween He finished up with the immortal words You can make fifteen quid on Kingsway alone on a good night.
These words stuck with me. Although Adam and friends had begun 2 weeks before Halloween, I wanted some of the action. I was going out to reclaim my childhood right to trick or treat. The previous year I had been exposed to a lame pumpkin growing contest at Guides. This had been particularly tough as 1) Im not competitive and 2) My dad insisted that we couldnt waste food and that the hollowed pumpkins would be great for Pumpkin Pie and soup yuck! As a result, I never planted the seeds and was forced to lie about the size of my pumpkins each week. There was no way I was facing that again.
By this point, trick or treating was a whole new game. Certainly it was nothing like the American TV programmes Id watched so long ago. It was cynical and for the unlucky householders, downright intimidating. For a start, Fancy Dress was out and sweets were not the aim. We would all roam the Village (not a real village, a housing estate) in our best jeans, new trainers or high heels. Ideally, the more canny trick or treaters would have a small brother or sister with them (we didnt have kids at 12 in those days). Most people just handed stuff over, knowing that their delinquent kids were out doing the same thing. To be honest, we didnt get much, it was a social event more than anything. Stories abounded regarding Razor Blades in apples, the guy who filled KitKats with dog poo and so on. My friends 10 year old brother actually decided to give trick or treaters Digestive Biscuits, trust me; that stops anyone knocking your door.
Sad to say, Trick or Treating has escalated over the last few years. On a housing estate full of alleyways, its an easy prospect and it goes too far. Last year was all police sirens, broken windows and toilet roll hanging from every tree. One guy I saw checking the stash hed made was 22 years old. Not really the target trick or treat age. No one has any control over it, its total anarchy; while there are plenty of young and able householders who are quick to defend their property, there are increasing numbers of elderly people who find it terrifying.
My third point of view on trick or treating is that of a licensee. I spent a few years working in a pub which had no licence for children no problem you might think? From mid September onwards, we had to contend with children actually running through the doors and demanding money with menaces. Most of the children had parents waiting outside in cars and if you asked them to leave they would just begin effing and blinding at you or go and get their parents as backup. It came to a bit of a head one night when a boy dressed as a devil tried to bite me. I dragged him out of the door by his arm (he was kicking me the whole way) only to have to face his pikey dad. The father began threatening staff and customers and offered us all outside. You have to wonder what kind of parent puts their child in that kind of danger or sets this sort of example. The way the boy was behaving (swearing, threatening etc) and the fact that hed tried to steal a mobile phone on the bar were more than likely to result in him getting hurt.
I am not against Trick or Treating per se; but if youre considering allowing your young children to take part unsupervised, I implore you to think again. Its not just the nuisance factor or the scare for the elderly and infirm. They may get dropped home by the police or prosecuted for criminal damage. Worse still, they may get badly hurt by an irate householder or given Rohypnol hidden in treats. The whole idea has been corrupted. Perhaps you think this is an overreaction, but its not a chance you can afford to take. I was going to put this in the section there ought to be a law about that, but after writing the first half I realise that we shouldnt need one.
Some people really enjoy welcoming the trick or treaters, I've seen houses with signs at the gate. I enjoy giving supervised, dressed up children, sweets but I'm very aware that most of my neighbours don't feel the same way. I know it's fun for the kids and they should be able to enjoy it, but only if their safety is assured. I felt that Trick or Treat should make the Halloween section as whether we like it or not, it's here to stay.
What are the alternatives to trick or treating?
My friend attends a church where they organise parties for the kids. Her son was told that Halloween amounts to devil worship and the kids are banned from wearing scary costumes. This seems a bit strange to me, even at Brownies we dressed up for Halloween and thats affiliated to the church. The parties seem a good idea and a nice bit of fun for the kids, but its a bit unfair denying them ghoulish costumes with all that tat in the shops. Also, Ive read some great reviews covering the real meaning of Halloween and its part of our heritage.
The kids can sit in and watch Halloween Simpsons, but these are the least funny episodes, and who wants to grow up with memories of watching TV?
The best option seems to be to stage your own party or invite family round. If anyone has any other suggestions for altenatives, Id love to see them in the comments. Thanks for reading.
Trick or Treat?
Is it right or wrong to allow your children to do this?
Every year when this time approaches i hear people saying they are taking their little ones for trick or treat and then the others saying that if parents take their children out they are bad parents as its wrong to celebrate it or its begging and so on.
I personally take my children out, Why? Because people and family invite them to. To be honest its just abit of harmless fun, yes you get the teenagers who cause problems and yes they should be punished. But is it wrong to take children dressed up round the neighbour hoods to doors which are decorated for Halloween, IE inviting the children? I do not believe the people should give out money as this is asking for trouble but a few sweets or Fruit (Apples).
I get really disappointed if no one comes to my door as i love seeing the little ones dressed up and just having good old fun. I must admit i don't like the ones who come with no parents especially if they are little. Parents should always supervise.
Don't take away children's fun by running Halloween down because that's what it is mostly about? or am i wrong. My children don't really understand what Halloween is really about they just like to dress up, enjoy themselves and visit friends.
What do you think?
What does it mean for you? What does it mean for me?
All those people around the world who so enthusiastically celebrate Halloween, do they actually know what it is? Many do, many dont
Halloween for an Irish person has ancient roots. Its a very special time, or should be, and not for the usual reasons of partying, scaring people and above all selling and marketing. Many people dress up and go to parties around Halloween but do they actually know why?
Ive lived in Italy for the past 6 years now and I get so annoyed when someone says to me Why do we celebrate Halloween, its an evil festival from America theres nothing better to make my Celtic blood boil!
In Italy, Halloween the American Festival is now celebrated big time but for all the wrong reasons. For them its a festival of evil witches, ghosts and demons. Ive even heard someone call it a demonic festival. Last year, I sat and raged as I listened to a priest on the TV rant on about how the Italians shouldnt even think about celebrating as it was only for evil, non-Christian people, a thing that belongs to devil worshippers. I couldnt believe they let people like that on the TV. Obviously, this priest had never done any research on the topic. If he had, maybe he wouldnt have offended so many people.
If they are so concerned about its pagan nature then they shouldnt celebrate Christmas or Easter either as they too are both originally pagan festivals (Yule and Ostara).
Halloween is an English word. All Hallows Eve. Eve = the evening before. So it means literally the evening before All Hallows Day or All Saints Day. Doesnt sound like an evil word to me in fact this word was created by the church. In Italy the 2nd of November has traditionally been called Il Giorno di Tutti Morti which translates as the day of the dead, hmm, sounds a bit more sinister to me. Actually theres nothing bad about it its a day where the dead are remembered and everybody goes to visit the graves of departed family and friends.
For the Irish Celts the 31st of October was called Samhain (pronounced Sow-en) which is Gaelic for the end of the summer. It was the last day of the Celtic year. So it was actually New Years Eve. Samhain didnt belong to the old year and neither did it belong to the new year, it was when the old and the new met and interchanged a very delicate situation. Old and new, death and life. The worlds of the living and the dead side by side. People believed that during this time the dead could enter the land of the living. The ancient Celts didnt fear the dead and they would leave food out to welcome them. Neither did they believe in demons. In Irish legends there is no talk of evil demons and devils as such, only the evil of mankind. There wasnt even a god of the dead.
Where did the ghost stories come from? Well the Celts believed mysterious happenings or tricks were the work of the fairies or the elves who, it seemed, were quite busy being mischievous around Samhain.
The Romans, who were trying to convert the British Isles to Christianity, introduced the festival of Pomona, goddess of the harvest, which became associated with Samhain which explains the apple, coincidently pomme in French Pomonas symbol in fact was an apple.
Pope Boniface IV introduced All Saints Day on 13th March 610, a day on which fallen Christians (martyrs) were honoured. Another pope later moved All Saints Day to coincide with Samhain and another again moved it to the day after. A bit indecisive, werent they?
The 1st November became Hallowmas and the 31st October All Hallows Eve.
The modern day Halloween in America is actually a combination of traditions brought over by European immigrants. In the early days, having parties on the 31st was the thing to do in American high society. People partied to eliminate the aspects that associated this festival with death. American companies started to produce products specially for Halloween and here we have the first commercialisation of Halloween and of course the scare factor is a great marketing strategy In this way Halloween became contaminated with demonic associations which probably makes for great fun for a lot of people but it did desecrate an extremely important feast day for an ancient race.
So where do the different things that we do come from such as the pumpkin or dressing up. Well to start, there are no pumpkins in Ireland. In Ireland they have always used turnips. For me a pumpkin is absolutely not a symbol of Halloween its just something to eat!
Legend has it that when the dead roamed the land, they carried a light with them. Now, the only fear that people had when the dead roamed the land was that they would try to bring the living back with them so it was tradition to dress up as a dead person and carry a light if you had to go out so that the actual dead would think you were one of them.
An interesting note (unknown to many, many Italians) is that the use of hollowed pumpkins is documented in Emilia Romagna a large region in Northern Italy (where I actually live).
Trick-or-Treating? There are many ideas on this. One is that the fairies would dress as beggars and go from house to house and if there was no treat there was mischief! Another is that in medieval times people went from door to door souling orsoul-caking you gave a piece of bread/cake and in exchange they would pray for your departed familys souls (documented in Continental Europe).
Well as a final note, what we call Samhain has its equivalent all over the world. All ancient races honoured their ancestors at some time or another and frequently in similar ways. Its a shame that, for example, here in Italy its only about masked parties and demons and marketing, not to mention the film industry. People are free to celebrate as they want but it would be nice if they also knew what this celebration is about and why they are celebrating. Many of you may already know the origins so I hope this review didnt bore you, hopefully youll have learnt something you didnt know already. For those of you who have never delved deeper into the meaning Halloween, then I hope youll think of Samhain under a different light from now on!
Thanks for reading!
What follows is an account of the night I first celebrated Halloween as Samhain. If you get scared easily then don't read any further.
Samhain, (usually pronounced Sow-in - sow rhyming with cow), is the name for an ancient Celtic festival which in accordance with the Christian tradition of converting the heathens by appropriating their celebrations, has since been replaced with Halloween. The name Halloween is an abbreviation of All Hallows Eve, the night before All Hallows or All Saints Day, (Hallowed means sacred or holy as in the line: 'Hallowed be thy name').
In the days when nature was the basis for religion, Samhain marked the end of Summer and the approach of Winter. Winter brings death in much of nature with Spring bringing new life, so it was also seen as a time to celebrate death and honour the dead. Some say it's a time when those that have died during the previous year can come back to say a final goodbye. Many people believe that the divide between the dead and the living becomes blurred on this night and so it is seen as the ideal time for receiving guidance from those who have passed over.
I have some friends with Wiccan beliefs, which are closely related to those of the ancient Celts, and a few years ago I was invited to celebrate Samhain at their house. I already had an interest in Wicca so I was happy to take up the invitation. I arrived early to help with the preparation of food for later; typical stuff: pumpkin soup and gingerbread among it. We carved out a pumpkin and placed a lit candle in it, then placed it in the window. Now that the focus of Halloween is on horror, the meaning of Halloween lights is often said to be to scare away evil spirits, but apparently the light has traditionally been a guide for lost souls to find their way to the ceremony. Turnips were the original Jack o' lanterns, but when the tradition was carried to America a pumpkin took its place; they're much easier to carve out.
As people began to arrive, it became clear that some of the men in the group were overly cynical, so it was decided that they would all be better off down the pub, and they were banished from the house until we were ready to let them back in at the end of the night. A women only celebration felt right, even though it hadn't been planned that way and there weren't any objections from the men, maybe they'd planned it that way!
Each guest was asked to bring an object for the altar, I brought a pretty purple tumbler decorated with hieroglyphics which was to be used as a water chalice. Other items brought by guests included: feathers, rocks, shells, a branch; each item representing one of the four elements; earth, air, fire and water. All items were placed strategically on a table which was to serve as our altar and each item was blessed and purified by being placed in a room with burning sage before the ritual began. We had hoped to place the altar outside, but as the weather was too bad the living room was to be used instead.
One of the guests was a practising Druid and she was to lead us in the ritual. She wore her robe, but the rest of us had no ritual dress, just comfy clothing. She had a stick or wand with which she drew a circle while walking around us, then lit four candles for North, South, East and West; thanking the directions and elements, welcoming God and Goddess energy into our circle and asking for blessings and guidance. Once the circle is cast it is meant to be a sacred space that should not be broken by anyone leaving or entering. We all joined hands and took part in a group chant, I can't repeat the exact words that were said, not because they're any great secret; it's easy to find similar things online if anyone wanted to begin practising, but this is more about the general attitude and atmosphere of the night. I think it would be wrong to lay all of the details bare anyway, because the whole thing was for those of us who took part in the circle and it would feel like betraying confidences.
At first there were a few giggles, but that was fine, we were meant to be enjoying ourselves, there was no-one telling us to be serious and once everyone got over the initial feeling silly bit, it was easier to hold an open mind and for some of us to suspend disbelief and take part in a spirit of open mindedness and fun.We imagined energy running around the circle passing through our hands, being received in one hand and passed on with the other. It seemed that we really could feel this energy growing in strength. Psychological maybe, but I felt a warmth and tingling passing through me. It felt real not imagined. We spent some time in a kind of group meditation and with this being Halloween it was time to say goodbye to things from the past year that we no longer wanted or needed, or that had simply ended naturally. A couple of us had lost people close to us that year and goodbyes were said to them and tears shed. Thoughts were written down and cast into flames. Then it was time to think about new things we wanted to bring into our lives to replace those that had passed. Nothing really 'spooky' happened, there was no talking to the dead, or fortune telling, it was more of a bonding experience and an acknowledgement of something I can't quite put into words, maybe of a higher power than us, whether nature or God or just the experience of life itself. At the end of the ritual the circle was magically closed, but not 'broken' and it was time for the obligatory feast! We ate food, drank mead, some of us painted each others faces and we all generally enjoyed ourselves.
Although two or three of the women held strong beliefs in Wicca or similar religions, most of us had that mish mash of beliefs common today; picking and choosing from different traditions, with some kind of belief in 'something other', but not being sure exactly what. I don't remember exactly how many of us were there, I think about eight to ten, but all of us probably thought ourselves open minded on the subject of religion and only one of us was a totally convinced atheist. Still, we all thoroughly enjoyed the night and all agreed that we would take part in something similar in the future.
By the way that second sentence was just a teaser to get you interested, sorry! And to end with a traditional pagan expression - Merry Meet and Blessed be!
How do YOU celebrate? Is it candy or candles? Costumes or Krueger? We want to know.