Friday, October 30, 2015

A-Z of Halloween

Posted by: Janni Nell

In honor of Halloween, I’ve trawled the internet and come up with an A-Z of fun facts. Hope you enjoy reading about all the wacky and not so wacky things associated with this holiday.

A is for Apples. Bobbing for apples is a traditional Halloween fortune-telling game. Whoever is the first to snag an apple in their teeth will be the first to marry. If you get an apple on your first try, you’ll experience true love. Yay! If a girl puts her bobbed apple under her pillow she’ll dream of her future husband.

B is for Barmbrack. This is a kind of fruit cake or fruit bread. Click here for a recipe.

C is for Candy.  Halloween sales of sweet treats average about 2 billion dollars. The National Confectioners Association is predicting $2.6 billion in 2015.

D is for Dentist.  Visits to the dentist soar in the post-Halloween period. (Okay, I haven’t exactly found any statistics to back this up, but after all that candy consumption...)

E is for Eating. So far as I’m concerned any excuse is a good one for eating candy. The top ten Halloween candies according to kidzworld 

F is for Fine.  Don’t quote me on this, but, in Hollywood, it seems there’s a $1,000 fine for using silly string on Halloween.  Not sure what the silly string manufacturers think of that. I’m guessing, not impressed.

G is for Ghosts. Ancient Celts dressed up as demons and spirits because they believed that disguising themselves would trick the real ghosts, who were wandering around during Samhain, not to take their souls. Obviously the ghosts weren’t real bright if they fooled by people in disguise. 

H is for Halloween. We’re talking the movie here. There’s long been a rumor that the character, Michael Myers played (mostly) by Nick Castle, wore a William Shatner mask. You can see William Shatner talking about it here.

I is for Ireland, which is considered to be the birthplace of Halloween.

J is for Jack O’ Lanterns. These are named after a guy called Stingy Jack. There are many versions of the story, but in most of them Jack ends up wandering the earth with a turnip lantern. Apparently he liked to steal souls. Since people didn’t want their souls stolen (and who can blame them) they also carried turnip lanterns to keep Jack away. Not sure why that worked. I mean if Jack’s carrying a turnip lantern, why would he be scared of other turnip lanterns? Anyway turnips were replaced by carved pumpkins when Irish immigrants came to North America.

K is for Kids. Adults going trick-or-treating is not encouraged.  In some places anyone over 12 who goes trick-or-treating can be prosecuted.

L is for Lamswool. This is another name for Halloween, which has also been called All Hallows Eve, Witches Night, Snap-Apple Night, Samhain and Summer’s End.

M is for Mumming.  Back in the day—we’re talking 16th century or thereabouts—groups of people in costume went door-to-door singing, reciting verses and generally entertaining in exchange for food. This could be the forerunner of trick-or-treating. Or not.

N is for Norm Craven. This guy broke the world record in 1993 by growing an 863lb pumpkin. In 2014 Beni Meier of Switzerland grew a 2,323lb (1,054kg) pumpkin.

O is for Orange. Both orange and black are colors associated with Halloween. Orange is linked to the Fall harvest, while black is for death.

P is for Pomona. The festival of Pomona (the Roman goddess of the harvest) was celebrated on 1st November. When Romans invaded Celtic lands, they combined the festival of Pomona with Samhain.

Q is for Quick with a knife. Stephen Clarke set a pumpkin carving record of 16.47 seconds in 2013.

R is for Romance. There are lots of fortune-telling traditions at Halloween mostly involving girls seeing their future husbands. Scottish girls believed they could see their future husband if they hung wet sheets in front of the fire on Halloween.

S is for Samhainophobia. Yep, this is the fear of Halloween.

T is for Trick-or-Treat. We all know what it is, but apparently the term trick-or-treat dates back to the 1920s.

U is for Unusual. Apparently it’s unusual for a full moon to occur on Halloween. The next one won’t happen until 2020.

V is for The Village Halloween parade. Held in New York City, this is the largest Halloween parade in the U.S. It attracts about 50,000 participants and roughly 2 million spectators.

W is for Witches. Lots of kids dress up as witches for Halloween. Originally, a pagan goddess known as “the crone” was honored during Samhain.  She symbolized wisdom, change and the turning of the season.  

X is for Xtraordinary facts According to tradition, if a person wears his or her clothes inside out and then walks backwards on Halloween, he or she will see a witch at midnight. They’ll probably also trip and fall on their butt.

Y is for Young Women. This can’t possibly be true. Or can it? According to my sources, there was a Scottish fortune-telling game, where young women used cabbage stumps to predict information about their future husbands. Exactly what information this was I can only guess. Perhaps they were trying to predict the length of their future partner’s—um—sporran.   

Z is for Zombies. A popular costume for trick-or-treaters. (Okay, I’m fudging now, but there aren’t that many possibilities for Z.)

Happy Halloween everyone!
May your tricks be clever and your treats be many.


Janni Nell is the author of paranormal mysteries. “Darkwood” is the first book in a new series.

Wannabe witch, Ellie Oxrider, is about to have the worst week of her life.

It begins with a warning from her aunt that Ellie is in imminent danger. Okay her aunt’s predictions aren’t always accurate, but when Ellie is stalked by a faceless shadowy figure, she’s forced to take the warning seriously.

Already on her guard, she’s suspicious about the new guy in town. Saxon Darkwood claims to be an accountant, but he seems to know an awful lot about magic. Could he be the faceless stalker? Or is he just an innocent bystander?

Ellie is determined to discover the truth and not even the darkest magic will stop her.

Available now:  Amazon  iBooks  Kobo  Google


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