Introduction By Hmsbeefnuts
Blog By Caelrona
Hello, and welcome to Wednesday Whimsy, Hmsbeefnuts here. Except, this isn’t any ordinary Wednesday Whimsy. I have spent many months writing blogs for Wednesday, and even longer writing blogs on other days, almost a year in fact, however, things are changing, and change is often a good thing. In this case, the change is good. I will no longer be writing a regular Wednesday blog, I simply don’t have the time in my week now to write 3 blogs a week, so Wednesday has to go. I have changed my job, and have a vastly different social life right now, and time is at a premium, and I dont want to half arse anything. Although I am sad to see my Wednesday slot go, it isn’t all bad news. Caelrona, our semi-regular contributor is stepping up to fill the empty Wednesday slot, and at the same time becoming a full time blogger here at All Geek To Me. I believe that she wants to keep the Wednesday Whimsy title, and she has it, with my blessing, if she so wishes. So I hope you will all join me in welcoming Caelrona to her Wednesday Slot, as we look forward to her future blogs, including the one below. I’ll still be around Monday and Thursday, so you’re not getting away that easy. Enough waffle, here is Caelrona, with her particular brand of stuff.
Hiya all! A few words before I begin, perhaps? You might have noticed I’ve not been posting much lately (more on that another day, perhaps?) but I’ve come back with a bit of a bang. Our dear HMS has given up his Wednesday slot here at All Geek To Me, and I’ve stepped in to fill it – we wouldn’t want you missing your Wednesday fill of geek, now would we? I’ll be doing my best to bring you my own brand of whimsy on Wednesdays from here on out, and I shan’t be keeping you reading any longer! Onto the article!
It’s October now and we are creeping steadily closer to Halloween. I know that the holiday isn’t nearly as big in some countries as it is in my home country of America, but it is my favorite holiday. Here in America people start gearing up for Halloween as early as September; and stores start getting ready for it as early as August! Not knowing much about traditions or activities of other countries myself I figured that people from other countries might not know about the huge commercialization, traditions and activities that America has for Halloween; and what better way to geek over my favorite holiday than with a blog post? So here I am, ready to tell you all about some traditional and not-so-traditional Halloween activities from America!
Halloween is known by many names in many places. Halloween, Hallowe’en, All Hallows Eve, and Samhain are all variants of the same holiday (although Samhain can also be considered a slightly different and separate holiday as well.) Whatever you call it, it generally elicits excitement and maybe even fear from most people. Halloween is typically associated with all sorts of supernatural and creepy things like vampires, ghosts and other monsters as well as various occults. Not to mention the various pranks often done by mischievous individuals during the holiday. While highly commercialized to the point of absolute ridiculousness now; the original holiday was for honoring the dead and celebrating the ending of the harvest season.
Jack o’Lantern Carving
Originally brought to America from Irish immigrants, Jack o’Lantern carving is a must-do for Halloween celebration all over America. While Jack o’Lanterns are typically carved in pumpkins or other gourds; early versions of the Jack o’Lantern were carved in turnips, beets and potatoes. This changed when Irish immigrants brought the practice to America and discovered that pumpkins make fantastic Jack o’Lanterns. Many different types of contests are held regarding pumpkins and Jack o’Lanterns; ranging from carving contests to see who can make the most scary/original/whatever face or design to pumpkin growing contests where pumpkins can reach absolutely gigantic proportions. The World Record for the largest Jack o’Lantern was carved from a pumpkin weighing in at a massive 1,469 lbs (666.33 kg); and the World Record for the most Jack o’Lanterns lit at one time is 30,919! That is a whole lot of pumpkins!
Pumpkins of all sizes and types for carving and decoration (with paint/stickers/whatever) can be found in almost any store that sells produce during the month of October. Many children grow up carving pumpkins into fanciful faces and designs; either in school or with their parents or guardians. I know I massacred more than my fair share of gourds in my lifetime, and will continue to do so as the years march on! Turning a pumpkin into a Jack o’Lantern is one Halloween tradition I will never forget. Plus when you’re done you can bake pumpkin seeds and pumpkin cookies or pie from the insides! Double win!
Costumes being worn for Halloween are a fairly recent development and have a short history. The earliest recording of costumes being worn for the holiday are from Scotland in 1895; other countries don’t have recordings of it until 1900. Early costumes emphasized the pagan and Gothic nature of the holiday, but by the 1930’s costumes based on characters in mass media became popular. Early Halloween costumes were aimed at children, however after the mid-20th century Halloween has increasingly been celebrated by adults. Now Halloween costumes are worn just as much by adults as children, and costumes are available for nearly anything you can think up!
I’ve been dressing up for Halloween since I was a baby. While now-a-days my costumes are only worn during Halloween parties, I spent plenty of time in my earlier years romping about town in my costume collecting candy. Costumes are a huge part of Halloween here in America, and as such have turned into a huge industry. Most stores start pushing costumes early in September, and some special stores even open up just for Halloween to sell costumes. Having worked at one such store, I can tell you from experience that people will drop hundreds of dollars (USD) on costumes and accessories! Most schools even allow children to wear their Halloween costumes on Halloween and have a special parade and party complete with a costume contest! Dedicated costumers will work on handmade costumes for months before Halloween – sometimes even years for highly detailed ones!
Trick or Treating
Trick or Treating (also known as Guising) is the customary practice of children on Halloween going about in costume to ask for candy. Children in costumes travel from house to house in order to ask for treats such as candy (sometimes money or small toys are also given) with the question“Trick or Treat?” The ‘trick’ is generally an idle threat to perform mischief upon the homeowner if no treat is given, however a great many rebellious children and teenagers pull pranks on Halloween even if treats are given. In America, trick or treat has been a customary Halloween tradition since at least the 1950’s. The rule of thumb for trick or treating in America is that a porch light turned on means the homeowner has candy and is participating. If a porch light is off then the homeowner is not participating in the candy giving.
I spent many hours walking along my neighborhood from house to house, usually followed by my mother in the car, dragging a pillowcase full of loot behind me trick-or-treating on Halloween. When I got a bit older, I often grouped with friends for the going often times bringing in bags and bags of candy. That used to be how it was done (at least when I was growing up); traditionally children would either go trick or treating on their own, walking from house to house in their own neighborhoods or parents would take them around from house to house in their cars. Recently, however, people have been participating in various modified versions of trick or treating in order to protect the children. Parents will form large groups where many children all go at once in a group with several parents supervising, or they do something called ‘Trunk or Treating’ where parents from various community groups or churches will gather together in a parking lot and have children trick or treat at the trunks of their parked cars. Cities will also organize events where children (and their parents) do their trick or treating on a set day a little before Halloween.
No, not those kind of Haunted Houses; no paranormal investigation here. I’m actually referring to Haunted Attractions of any kind. There are many types of Haunted Attractions, including (but not limited to); Haunted Houses, Haunted Hayrides, Haunted Trails/Forests, Haunted Theme Parks (Screamparks), Cornfield Mazes, and Ghost Runs. All have their own unique features that make them different; but all are designed to give visitors or customers a thrill and a fright. There is no real known history of when Haunted Attractions began and no known recording of their origins; although there is one that dates from 1915. It wasn’t really until the 1960’s and 1970’s that they began cropping up in towns and cities with regularity.
Haunted Houses now open up in nearly every single town all across America during the month of October and during Halloween. Most schools, churches and large community groups typically create their own Haunted Houses for people to walk through and receive a bit of a fright. There are also numerous attraction parks that host their own Haunted Houses and similar experiences (notably Knott’s Berry Farm’s “Halloween Haunt” or Sixflags’ “FrightFest”) that people can attend for a bit of spooky Halloween fun. I’ve both walked through and participated in my own fair share of Haunted Houses. Good houses can put a right bit of spook into you, along with a great deal of fun. Helping to build and participating in the haunting of the Haunted House is (in my opinion) even more fun. Scaring the pants off of random people, and having them laugh about it and tell you good job instead of yelling at you? Heck yeah!
Anyway; those are just a few Halloween activities from my area of the world. Halloween is my favorite holiday, and I celebrate it with friends who love it just as much as I do; so you can best we always have a frightful good time! It is fantastic fun, and I hope that you now have a better understanding of why my country puts so much emphasis on the night. If not, then maybe you’ll be wanting to celebrate it a bit more yourself then!
Until next time;
Caelrona, signing off! ❤