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October 30, 2012

Halloween Hauntings by Karilyn Bentley

Happy Halloween! I love this time of the year. While it's not my favorite holiday - that spot goes to Christmas - it is definitely up there in second place. What's not to love about leftover chocolate candy? We all know Halloween is a special time for kids - and some adults - to dress up and go around begging for treats, but do you know how the traditions started?

Halloween has its history in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain (pronounced sow-en). Samhain is a celebration of the end of harvest season and the upcoming winter. November 1st was their New Year's Day. October 31st was New Year's Eve for the ancient pagans and it was on this day that they believed the walls between the world of the living and the world of the dead thinned, allowing the deceased to come into the world of the living and cause havoc such as sickness or damaged crops. A bonfire was part of the Samhain celebration.

Fairies were believed to roam the land dressed as beggars and would go door-to-door asking for treats. People who gave them food would be rewarded, while those who didn't were punished. Children were also known to go around asking for treats or tricks, the trick in this case being played on the homeowner or his property if no treat was given. Thus the beginnings of trick or treating.

Early Celts would use a hollowed out turnip, gourd or rutabaga to hold an ember from the sacred Samhain bonfire to light their home hearths for the coming year. Another origin of Jack O'Lanterns was the Irish myth of Stingy Jack. Stingy Jack was a drunk and a swindler who tricked the Devil on two occasions, one for a drink and the other to climb a tree for a piece of fruit. On both occasions he trapped the Devil by using the symbol of the cross. He didn't release the Devil until the Devil agreed to leave his soul alone. When Jack died he couldn't get into Heaven b/c he was a drunk and swindler, but neither could he get into Hell, since the Devil kept his promise. The Devil felt sorry for Jack and gave him a hollowed out turnip with an ember in it to light his way while he wandered the earth. People used jack o'lanterns to scare away Jack and other  spirits. When immigrants came to America, pumpkins were more common than turnips so they began to use those. And now we have Jack O'Lanterns on our front porches.

For more on Halloween history look here or here

Halloween will always hold a special place in my heart since it was the night I found out I placed in TWRP Got Wolf? contest, which started my writing career. Do you have a favorite Halloween memory? Please share!

I'm leaving you with a cute picture of Jaws and Hell Hound wearing their Halloween bandanas taken several years ago. Just because I have to show off my "babies". <g>

Karilyn Bentley


Sylvia said...

Your babies are so cute!! My favorite Halloween memory is dressing up at work as a grandmother. We had a lot of fun that day, though I doubt we got much work done. Happy halloween.

Karilyn Bentley said...

Hi Sylvia,
Thank you! :) I've seen a lot of costumes, but never a grandmother. That sounds like fun! It is hard to get work done on Halloween when we're all dressed up, but it's still fun to see all the outfits.

Liese said...

What I remember most about Halloween and growing up in Dallas was that it always seemed cold that night and I was always forced to wear a coat over my costume. I was mortified to have a costume no one could see!

Have a great Halloween!

Nancy said...

Love the blog post, Karilyn! I think some of my fav memories are dressing my kiddos up for Halloween. Or seeing the costumes they came up with as teens/ young adults. My daughter and her friends did the Wizard of Oz characters one year. They looked amazing!

Have a good and safe Halloween!

Nancy Haddock

Diane Kelly said...

Love the dogs and lore! Thanks!

Patricia said...

I love reading historical accounts like your post that tell me where certain traditions got their beginnings. The gourds holding candles from the Celts is something new to me. Thank you.

Karilyn Bentley said...

Hi Liese,
It's funny how when we're kids, things seem so upsetting. I hope you got to wear a costume people could see! :)

Janie Emaus said...

I remember walking the neighborhood with my mom and how SHE threw eggs at one house for not giving us candy!

Karilyn Bentley said...

Hi Nancy,
Thank you for stopping by! I love seeing the kids' costumes too! So cute! It's always fun to open the door and see how they're dressed.

Happy Halloween!

Karilyn Bentley said...

Hi Diane,
Thank you!!! :) I'm always happy to share pix of the "babies."

Karilyn Bentley said...

Hi Patricia,
Thank you for stopping by! I'm glad you enjoyed the lore of the holiday. Candles in gourds was a new one for me too. I didn't realize it either until I did some research on it.

Happy Halloween!

Karilyn Bentley said...

Hi Janie,
Wow! Your mom really threw eggs? I can't believe someone would be home, leave the light on and then not give out candy. Craziness!

chris k said...

you know- I grew up in new york where it's obviously cold in october- and have no memory of having to wear a coat over my costume -

maybe we layered underneath - : )

my favorite costume was maria antoinette - my mother made me a beautiful blue dress with drooping sleeves and a pink bustle looking thing- lol - and she made a cotton wig that looked just like the pictures of that era in France

but I do not remember a coat !! lol.

Liz Lipperman said...

Love finding out how jack-o-lanterns came about.

My favorite Halloween story is when I was a teenager, and we used to throw corn on people's porches and soap windows. One year we got this great idea to tie a fishing weight on a string and then tack it to a window pane. then we'd string it across the street and hide and pull on it. Every time someone came out to check on it, we'd laugh like the goofy teens we were. I remember one time the old guy hollered that we'd better get out of there, so we ran down the alley, only to find out he had a bucket of iced cold water waiting to throw on us. Served us right. But again, like the goofy teens we were, it only fired us up to aggravate him more.

I know. I was a brat.

Phyllis said...

Love the post and informative too! Cute ‘babies’.

I favorite Halloween memory was when I work as a hotel front desk clerk. The hotel encouraged costumes and even had a contest with prizes award to the top three. In my theatre days, I did make-up among other things. One of the other ladies had long blonde hair and I did the make-up that made her look like a lioness, teasing her hair and all. I dressed as a gray mouse that included gray face and hair. Well, she got first place and I came in second. Still think I should have shard the first prize!! Otherwise, I enjoyed working helping to build haunted houses, again doing the make-up and being an actor in them. So much fun.

Karilyn Bentley said...

Hi Chris,
That sounds like an adorable costume! Hat's off to your mom!

Hope your Halloween is a good one!

Karilyn Bentley said...

Hi Liz,
I love hearing your goofy teen stories! That's pretty funny the guy threw a bucket of water on you. It's fun to hear things kids used to do that nowadays they wouldn't be able to. You know? :)

Karilyn Bentley said...

Hi Phyllis,
I never realized you were into theater. How cool! Sounds like you created some great costumes! Working in a haunted house sounds like fun.

Happy Halloween!

Kathy Ivan said...

Hi Karilyn and Happy Halloween to you! Iknew the story about the jack o' lantern (I am Irish after all LOL) but it's always a nice reminder.

I've loved reading about everybody elses dressing up and their inventive costumes. Mine were never very original. Congratulations on your new release, by the way. I'll be reading it as soon as I find a few spare minutes. :-)

Janice Seagraves said...

Love the photo of your fur babies.


Karilyn Bentley said...

Hi Kathy,
Thank you!!! I'll let you know as soon as my release comes out. I think it will be at the beginning of next year, but don't yet have a date. :)

Karilyn Bentley said...

Hi Janice,
Thank you!!! I'm glad you enjoyed the pix!

Happy Halloween!