Tuesday, October 7, 2014

HALLOWEEN, FANCIFUL MINDS and HALLOWED MEMORIES By CATHERINE LANIGAN AND RULA SINARA

CATHERINE: Rula and I concur that autumn is our favorite season and because it seems that these days, our treasured holidays are becoming “politically incorrect”, we are both woeful about this fact when poor old Halloween didn’t do anything to deserve becoming “Fallfest.” So, being the pro-active authors that we are, we decided to do something about it.

Rula suggested we dig up old pictures of ourselves in Halloween costumes to share with you all. We also agreed on a gift card giveaway to the best costume ideas you’ve pulled off on Halloween. My photo is not that old, but this is my lovely niece, Elaine, The Queen of Clean, for Halloween night and my darling two grandnieces, little pixies, don’t you think. I was supposed to be an Egyptian fortune teller. I hand out printed fortunes to all my guests each year. The shocking part is that some of their little “fortunes” come true. (It’s just a game, right?)

I wanted to dig into the research and find out what all the hubbub was about, so here I go—sharing my findings. 

Halloween is the shortened version of All Hallow’s Evening, the night before All Saints Day. Most historians believe that Halloween was based on a Celtic harvest festival Samhain. The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31st, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and dead overlapped and that the dead could come back and destroy their much needed crops. Their festival bonfires attracted insects which then attracted bats, which is where the bats for Halloween come from. The costumes and frightening masks were worn to scare away evil spirits. The idea of costumes and going door to door is also a Middle Ages custom that included Christmas wassailing.

Trick or Treating resembles the late medieval practice of “souling” when the poor people would go door to door on Hallowmas—All Saint’s Day, receiving food in return for prayers they would pray for the dead on November 2 which was All Souls Day. However, though our country was settled for hundreds of years by the Irish and Scots who brought their traditions with them, the practice of “souling” fell out of favor. The most interesting find for me was that “trick or treating” really wasn’t practiced in this country until the 1930’s. There was very little evidence of trick or treating before 1900. In 1911 in Kingston, Ontario, a newspaper reported that the area children were allowed to go “street guising” between 6 and 7 pm. It was the Baby Boomer Generation who benefitted from national attention to Halloween. Magazines such as “Jack and Jill” and “Children’s Activities” as well as radio programs, The Jack Benny Show and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” established the custom in our culture. But it was UNICEF that conducted a national campaign to raise funds for the “poor children of the world” that turned trick or treating almost back to “souling.”

Today, the kids have parties. But so did we back then. We bobbed for apples and shared apple cider and donuts. We gave popcorn balls as prizes for the best costumes.

RULA: Catherine, you’re the Queen of Research! I didn’t know all of that, but I sure am glad that I’ve been scaring away evil spirits every Halloween since I was a kid! You mentioned how it’s now referred to as ‘Fall Festival’ many places…especially in schools. My kids still get to dress up and take part in a parade, but it’s not allowed to be called 'Halloween'.

Another difference that stands out to me these days is the number of store bought costumes (don’t get me started on their prices!!). Half the fun, when I was a kid, was making your own. Starting the day after Halloween, I’d start brainstorming and talking with my siblings about what we wanted to be ‘next year’. You all may be thinking this post is a bit early in the month, but we used to start zeroing in on our ideas and gathering supplies at least this early. Besides, even if you’re buying, stores run out if you wait too long!

I’ve included a couple of costumes I made back when I was 11 and 12. I was a good little girl for the most part, following rules and all, so Halloween was like my little Hollywood. I could pretend to be bad, LOL. Hence, the monster and devil costumes. The devil costume consisted of a leotard and stuffed red sock pinned on for a tail. And that mean expression? I worked hard at it and blame some of the wrinkles I have now on that day ;). 


One of my favorites was the monster costume. I got together with a friend (she was Mr. Monster and I was the Mrs.) and we made paper-mâché heads and attached them to broomsticks. Look closely and you’ll see eye-holes cut out in the white cloth, corresponding to our true heights. Nowadays, that costume would never be allowed in a school parade because of face coverage and lack of peripheral vision. Safety first! 


So, as Catherine said, come share with us your costume ideas, new or old, or your favorite Halloween! We're picking one of the costumes shared for a $25 AMAZON GIFT CARD win! The winner will be announced in the comments section of this post tomorrow…so check back! Whether you win or not, you’re bound to find some great costume ideas in the comments!

40 comments:

  1. Love the post and the pics! My husband made an oscar the grouch costume once when he was in Junior High, and he was sure he was going to win best costume, but he lost to a girl who's dad owned a 'gentleman's club' , who came dressed as a Playboy bunny lol:) He still hasn't gotten over the loss.:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Too funny, Jen! I love the grouch and my eldest (in high school) still loves Elmo. He has a grouch t-shirt too!

      Delete
  2. Great post. I love Halloween except for all the yucky spiders people put out now days. I'd never trick or treat if I was a kid going to (ahem--a house like Pam's) with spiders all over her yard.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Roz, I cover my house with spiders. I even had a giant moving one but someone stole it!

      Delete
    2. LOL, Roz. We just had our annual 'fall' spider outbreak. Luckily, I'm not afraid ;).

      Pam, I'm betting the thief wasn't afraid of spiders either LOL. It wasn't me!

      Delete
  3. I love starting my day with a chuckle, and learning a bit more about my HW sisters! I don't think I ever had a really good Halloween costume (and I certainly was never captured with such a fierce expression on my face like Rula's!).

    ReplyDelete
  4. Growing up, I spent most Halloweens as either a hobo (wearing my dad's clothes) or a fortune teller (wearing my mom's clothes and lots and lots of scarves). Both required generous use of black eyeliner if I recall correctly. No photographic evidence remains. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. As an adult, I was lucky enough to work at a very creative place with costume competitions. My favorite entry was the tornado from the Wizard of Oz: hula hoop, streamers, and lots of hot glue.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A tornado? Now that's creative! I have a pic of me as a gypsy and I went as a fortune teller once too. I think my brother was a hobo as a kid. The eyeliner stays on awhile!

      Delete
  5. Ah, so glad to see others like this holiday other than me--and I'm one of the ones who call it Samhain . :) Although I've never been so creative with my costumes. The first Halloween I remember I dressed up as a witch and then Batgirl before moving onto Princess Leia (cinnamon buns and all!)...I was so lucky. My mom made almost all my costumes. I do remember one friend in high school covering herself in brown paper wrapping, folded at the top, and calling herself "lunch". You should have seen her trying to type in class! Great post, guys. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Lunch"...that's funny, Anna! Speaking of witches...I have a friend who started a tradition last year. She hosts a fun 'Witches Party' just for women friends and decorates down to the detail. Even the drinks are themed. Last year, there was a competition for most creative witch's hat. I can't wait for it this year!

      Delete
    2. I love the lunch bag! Wish I'd thought of it. We had a friend come to our party once with an umbrella with little cats and stuffed dogs on it. "Raining cats and dogs." Simple but really cute!!

      Delete
  6. Love this post! My mom let me be Gene Simmons from KISS when I was four or five. I still have the picture of me and my brother that Halloween hanging on the wall in a family collage. As a grown up, we have a neighborhood party every year that has an extremely competitive costume contest. My husband and I once went as a Publisher's Clearinghouse sweepstakes winner. He was dressed in a suit with a bunch of balloorand I wore a robe, hair curlers, and carried around a huge check! That was my favorite!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's hilarious, Amy! I love 'couples' costumes...but I don't think my husband has ever worn a costume at all!

      Delete
    2. Oh this is too fun! I've never done anything like that. My husband spent all his life in theater and so the dressing up part doesn't really get him. But I bet his favorite would be a pirate. Just saying...................

      Delete
  7. Catherine and Rula, what a fun post! I love Halloween (yes, I'm calling it what it is(: We also did the hand crafted costumes when we were growing up. But it always seemed like my imagination was way better than my crafting skills (some things haven't changed). My costumes never quite turned out quite as grand as they looked in my mind... I once tried to make a Grinch costume out of an old green blanket and ended up looking more like a shriveled apple LOL!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm trying to picture you as a shriveled apple, Carol, LOL! It's all in the effort! :)

      Delete
  8. Oh, one of my favorite holidays, too! And I don't have to buy spiders for my lawn - at this time in Oregon they're everywhere - and they're huge! I, too, was always a hobo or a gypsy as a child because that was easy in borrowed clothes. As an adult, I went to a party as a jar of jelly beans - a large, clear tarpaulin with legs holes I stepped into, gathered it up to my neck, then filled with twenty or thirty colored balloons (longer than round). I won the prize, but what I never considered was that I couldn't sit down all evening. I had to stand up in the back of our VW bus as Ron drove to the party. These days Cheyenne and I answer the door together - she has a bright, fluffy black and orange collar and I have a witch's hat. Didn't know about the bats - interesting stuff, Catherine. And Rula, even with a frown, you're not scary.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, but I tried so hard to look scary, Muriel! :)

      Okay, now a jelly bean jar really is creative!!

      Delete
    2. I agree!!! I have never seen anything like that. I LOVE IT!!! Very hard to wear.

      Delete
  9. I am a terrible Halloween person. I did have a friend who--shades of you, Muriel--went as Fruit of the Loom. Like you, she couldn't sit down anywhere. My favorite was always my granddaughter as a Hershey kiss, but there may be bias involved.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Going as chocolate and then eating chocolate...sounds like the way to spend an evening, Liz!

      Delete
  10. I dress up as the Grim Reaper and sit on my front porch. I have a Psycho curtain behind me and push button Psycho music! I have a phone that rings. When answered, a gravelly voice says, I'm coming to GET YOU.

    That being said, I asked my 9 year old what he wanted to be and he said, "I want to be Ordinary Man."

    I have no idea how to help him with his costume

    Last year he was Harry Potter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pam, I'm laughing so hard over your kid!

      I want to trick-or-treat at your house! We always had a haunted house as a kid. When I lived in North Africa, the American embassy was across from our school and it had a maze of vacated underground tunnel 'shelters'. Every year, the 8th grade class would be responsible for setting up a haunted house walk through in those tunnels and the entire school would go over there. Great memories!

      Delete
  11. Someone in my son's school dressed up as 'static cling' one year. They wore a black garbage bag with all different socks stuck to it. I thought that was pretty clever. My son was Clint Eastwood one year (dressed as The Man With No Name)...not something the younger generation got, but the older ones did.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. STATIC CLING !! I'm still laughing!!!

      Delete
    2. Definitely clever, Noelle! You're making me think that if I start collecting laundry lint now, I'll have enough to make a 'lint' costume. Perhaps all my kids could go as laundry themes lol.

      Delete
  12. My fave was a sweet little third grade student of mine who made his own baseball costume. ADORABLE!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw, little boys in baseball outfits are very adorable!

      Delete
  13. I hope he was Derek Jeter!! My favorite. I have a Johnny Damon Bobble head doll. Doesn't count does it?

    ReplyDelete
  14. I saw a similar "static cling" costume, Noelle. Another clever homemade costume I saw was a "cereal" killer. She had a bunch of mangled mini cereal boxes attached to her clothing complete with fake blood. We usually go with the boring store-bought costumes...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! OMG, Christy, I had to pass this one on to my boys. LOVE that idea!

      Delete
  15. Halloween is my oldest daughter's favorite Halloween...next to Christmas, of course. And she's celebrating the 23 anniversary of her 29th birthday. I was always a scare crow or maybe a ghost made from one of my mom's sheets until I'd get hot and pull it off. Halloween was a big deal when I was a kid, then when I got too big, I handed it out. Once we ran out and I threw on a sheet and went door to door then came home with my loot and handed it out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL, Patricia. Better than keeping all that sugar around! It was a big deal when I was a kid too. I'm in charge of passing out candy now, but I love it. And I nibble :P.

      Delete
  16. And now for the winner of a $25 Amazon gift card....

    Catherine and I had such a hard time choosing because you all have had such incredible costume ideas!!!

    But in the end, we chose the oh so not Heartwarming...CEREAL KILLER!!! Mwahahahaaaa! Congratulations Christy!! You can contact me through my website or at my name at gmail to claim the gift. :)

    Happy Halloween in advance to everyone! Now go plan those costumes!

    ReplyDelete
  17. When my daughter was about two and a half we dressed her in my husband’s T-shirt that went down to her ankles, put a ring of black around her eye and attached angel wings and a halo. This was thrown together while our son wore the Snoopy costume I had labored on for a week. All this for the annual costume parade in the park. A photographer followed us during most of the parade in an attempt to make my daughter smile. Her picture was the only one to make the paper – a scowling angel/devil.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Marion, so cute about your daughter and so cool that she made the paper...smiling or not ;).

      Delete
  18. Thank you so much, Rula and Catherine!! I can't tell you how grateful I am. I broke my kindle on Sunday, so this gift card is going toward a replacement ASAP!!! Thanks for sharing your Halloween memories, and for the generous giveaway. Rula, I will email you with my info. Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Christy, that's awful about your Kindle but talk about great timing! We're glad the gift card will help replace it!

      Congrats again :)

      Delete