It’s that time of year again – at least for some of us. A drive down the streets anywhere in small town America will find Ghosts and Witches lurking among the usual fall decorations in front yards and on porches.
Televisions, Red Box, and Movie Theaters are inundated with horror movies and old favorites like The Great Pumpkin and Hocus Pocus. Corn mazes and hayrides have taken the place of swimming holes and overnight haunted houses have sprung up everywhere. Halloween is fast becoming the most important holiday of the year second only to Christmas in spending. Consumers spend over $2.5 Billion during Halloween. That’s a whole lot of candy, costumes, decorations, and party goods.
Like Christmas, Halloween is steeped in traditions. While Christmas can be a stressful period, Halloween is all about fun. People really get into the Halloween tradition and “spirit”. Some religions are against celebrating Halloween, citing its roots in ancient Druid religion. While this is true, Today’s Halloween celebrations are all about fun, with a generous amount of imagination.
The older children are busy trying to decide what they want to be for Halloween. One day they’re searching for something they can cut up to be a Zombie and the next day they’re begging you to let them wear your wedding gown while the younger children are searching the racks of Walmart for the latest super hero or Disney craze often hanging right next to the Christmas stuff. In this day and age even the adults seem to be searching for that perfect costume and worldwide the dentists and retail stores are dancing in glee at the anticipated boost in profits this holiday will yield.
Though Myths and Urban Legends abound in every culture and every season it seems Halloween has more than its share. “Urban legends thrive on people’s deepest fears, with twisted tales ranging from maniacal madmen to hoaxes to the completely unexplained. The autumn season brings on the scare, when the nights get longer and the air is chilly and one of the favorite pastimes around a roaring campfire is seeing who can tell the scariest tale Here are a few urban legends and folklore that will surely send a tingle of fear down your spine. http://www.halloween-website.com/urban_legends.htm
Some of these like ‘Bloody Mary’ are classics but the one my children and grandchildren were the most familiar with when their Grandfather was still alive was the one about poisoned candies and he’d insist on examining their bounty each year before they were allowed to eat anything – strange how it was always the chocolates and peanut logs that were suspect.
Did you know though that there is virtually no documentation of dressing up on Halloween in Ireland, the UK, or America before 1900 and that the earliest known reference to ritual begging on Halloween in North America occurs in 1911, in Kingston, Ontario, near the border of upstate New York. “It does not seem to have become a widespread practice until the 1930s, with the earliest known uses in print of the term “trick or treat” appearing in 1934, and the first use in a national publication occurring in 1939. Thus, although a quarter million Scots-Irish immigrated to America between 1717 and 1770, the Irish Potato Famine brought almost a million immigrants in 1845-1849, and British and Irish immigration to America peaked in the 1880s, ritualized begging on Halloween was virtually unknown in America until generations later.”
Trick-or-treating has evolved though and is now an activity for children on or around Halloween in which they proceed from house to house in costumes, asking for treats such as confectionery with the question, “Trick or treat?” The “trick” part of “trick or treat” is a threat to play a trick on the homeowner or his property if no treat is given. It has become socially expected that if one lives in a neighborhood with children one should purchase treats in preparation for trick-or-treaters.
Halloween is also known as Samhain, All Hallows Eve, Hallowmas and Hallowtide. It is celebrated on 31st October and many of the traditions we practice today stem from these times and belief systems.
“Evolving from the ancient Celtic holiday, modern Halloween has become less about literal ghosts and ghouls and more about costumes and candy. The Celts used the day to mark the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter, and also believed that this transition between the seasons was a bridge to the world of the dead. Over the millennia the holiday transitioned from a somber pagan ritual to a day of merriment, costumes, parades and sweet treats for children and adults.”
The Jack-o’-lantern plays a big part in the modern Halloween tradition and thought by many to stem from the legend of Stingy Jack a lazy Irish Blacksmith who tricks the Devil and traps him using a cross and refuses to free him until the Devil agrees not to take his soul when he dies.
Many years later Jack dies and because he was lazy and no good during his life he is refused entry to Heaven so he turns to the Devil who will not back down on his promise and refuses to take his soul distraught Jack cries out that he has no light to see his way through the darkness of eternity and laughing the Devil throws him a flame that has come directly from Hell and will never extinguish so Jack is forced to carve a lantern out of a turnip that he may find his way as he wanders the Earth for all Eternity, he became known as Jack of the Lantern or Jack-O-Lantern.
In keeping with modern persona of Halloween as a party holiday it is only fitting that I conclude with some simple and fitting recipes for your ‘Ghoul Gathering’ this year.
VAMPIRE BLOOD PUDDING
To make our special “Vampire Blood Pudding”, we first mix-up a batch of Jell-O brand, vanilla flavored instant pudding per the directions on the box. But before pouring it into the dessert bowls, we add just enough red food color to make it a nice blood red color, mixing continuously with a wire whisk until it is well blended. To get a true red color, use paste food coloring (icing color) available from most a craft or cake decorating supply stores.
Be sure to serve the Blood Pudding in clear glass dessert cups or bowls, so that the rich red color will really show through. We like to serve ours in small glass ice cream sundae dishes like the one shown to the right. These can usually be found at local department stores or at a restaurant supply store. For a children’s Halloween party, you can use small disposable plastic cups and spoons. Since they are made of plastic, they are safer for kids, and you just throw them away afterwards.
Carefully fill each serving dish to about a quarter of an inch from the top with the pudding. Finally, cover each dish with plastic wrap so that the pudding won’t pick-up any odors from inside the refrigerator and refrigerate until you are ready to serve your guests. Just remember to remove the plastic wrap just before serving.
As an added decorative touch, you can also place a piece of Halloween candy or add some black and red Halloween candy sprinkles on top of each dish of pudding. If you don’t want your pudding to look like blood, you can also use orange food coloring for a traditional Halloween color and top with whipped cream
What color represents Halloween the best? Why, orange of course! Using Orange flavored non-sweetened Kool-Aid or pre-sweetened Kool-Aid, mix up enough to fill your punch bowl. You can add creepy hand shaped ice, using plastic food handlers gloves, fill with water, tie off the top and freeze.
Using a Pumpkin Light under the punch bowl for a great special effect really reflects off the ice no matter what kind you use! We’ve come up with an idea that makes this very easy, click the link above and read the article.
Can’t find a blood bank for some real vampire Punch? Cherry flavored non-sweetened Kool-Aid or pre-sweetened Kool-Aid with its bright red color and sweet taste works almost as well! Mix enough Cherry flavored Kool-Aid as directed for your punch bowl.
To add a little extra creepiness to your punch, you could float some wax fangs in the bowl or make ice using the plastic full mouth fangs. They come in 12 packs, just fill with water, freeze, push out and float. But beware, they melt fast!
WITCHES BREW PUNCH
A classic, lemon-aid with its tangy flavor makes an enchanting Halloween punch. Mix up a batch of non-sweetened Kool-Aid or pre-sweetened Kool-Aid in Lemon-aid flavor and fill up your cauldron, oops, we mean your punch bowl. Leave room for ice to keep it chilled.
Float a couple hands of ice, add a little green food coloring to the water and they’ll have a ghastly contrast to the punch. Using a Pumpkin Light under the punch bowl for a great special effect really gives this color Kool-Aid lovely glow!
Need something green and tasty for all those Ghouls and Zombies you’re expecting Halloween Night? Just mix up enough lemon-lime flavored non-sweetened Kool-Aid or pre-sweetened Kool-Aid for your punch bowl and your all set for an invasion of the undead.
Ice hands go well with this punch. You can also find gelatin molds for making brains, hearts and other organs in Halloween stores that work just as well for ice. Add a Pumpkin Light under the punch bowl for a great special effect really gives this Zombie Punch an eerie glow!
And here is a site of videos for even more Halloween treat
OK SO GET SET FOR THE HOLIDAY AND ABOVE ALL HAVE FUN!