Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Halloween 2018

Every Friday since early April 2018 I have been doing a thing called #FreeFridayFrights.

This is where, on my website, I offer up either a free short story or a free non-fiction eerie/ghostly article read. I also do a Facebook live video that is often also posted to YouTube and other places.

For this past Friday (Oct 26, 2018), because it was the last Friday before Halloween I talked a bit about the origins and sources for Halloween customs as well as some trivia related to Halloween.

Since the Free Friday Frights articles only appear for a week and then are replaced by new content every week, I thought I'd share this past week's article here. If you'd rather see the video based on this written content, scroll down to watch it.

Friday Oct 26, 2018

NON-FICTION:  Halloween

A look at the tradition of All Hallows Eve (Halloween) as well as some interesting trivia associated with it.

Halloween appears to be a combination of traditions and folklore derived from Pagan, Celtic, ancient Roman and Catholic traditions.

Originally a pagan festival of the dead, All Saints’ or All-Hallow’s Day is November 1. The day is also known as All Saints Day, All Hallows Day, and All Souls’ Day. According to the original pagan custom, the celebration of the dead is meant to begin as the sun sets the evening before, and that is usually when the souls of the dead are said to begin to get up and roam around the earth. This original festival has, of course, survived to the present day in popular culture as Halloween, a night of trick-or-treating by children dressed up in costumes.


In the 17th Century, the catholic church used the same day as a way to honor and celebrate the known and unknown saints and martyrs of the church. It had originally been celebrated on May 13, but was moved to November 1st in the eighth century.

The ancient Celts refered to the festival surrounding this day as Samhaim and used it to celebrate the onset of winter and the begining of the Celtic New Year. Samhain translates to “end of summer.” In Ireland, the same celebration was known as Samhein, or “the feast of the sun.” In Scotland, the term Hallowe’en was used.

The act of children dressing up and going door-to-door to collect treats was likely adapted from the Gaelic practice of giving cakes to the poor (aka “soul-cakes”) in return for praying for a good harvest, prosperity and protection against bad luck. The concept of the trick is likely to have been derived from an English Plough Day custom where Ploughmen went door to door begging for gifts, and if they did not receive anything they would threaten to damage the grounds with their ploughs.

There are numerous folk customs associated with this festival. Here are a few Halloween related bits of trivia:
  • THERE IS NO ESCAPE: Harry Houdini died on Halloween. It’s true. I even wrote about it in Macabre Montreal (yes, that’s a bit of shameless self-promotion). One of the world’s most famous magicians died on October 31, 1926 in Detroit at the age of 52 in Detroit. He died of peritonitis, secondary to a ruptured appendix. It is commonly stated that Houdini died due to repeated or unexpected blows to the abdomen by a McGill University student in Montreal. This proposition might be partially true, as it is possible that the pain from the blunt force trauma Houdidi received might have masked the fact he was suffering from appendicitis, and, had he been treated earlier for that, he likely would have survived.

  • NOT SO HAPPY JACK: One of the traced origins involving the carving of jack-0-lanterns is believed to have come from Ireland with the carving of turnips and the legend of a man named Stingy Jack. The miserable old drunk enjoyed playing tricks on people. After playing a trick and trapping Satan, Jack made a deal to release him, so long as Satan promised not to take his soul. When Jack died, he was denied entrance to heaven, but also banned from hell. Satan gave Jack a single burning coal, which he placed into a hollowed out turnip. He then spent eternity wandering the earth with this lantern hopelessly looking for a resting place.

  • GIMME SOME CANDY:  According to the National Confectioner’s Association, one quarter of all of the candy sold in the United States every year is purchased specifically for Halloween. In addition, a majority of all candy given out on Halloween is chocolate. Three out of every 10 homes will pass out lollipops or other types of hard candy. Candy Corn was created in the late 1800s. The three colors are meant to look like the colors in kernals of corn. More than 35 million pounds of candy corn is produced each year. According to a 2017 Forbes article, Candy Corn is among the most hated of all Halloween candies (second to Circus Peanuts) and Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups were the most favored

  • HALLOWEEN 2018: THE TRIVIA OF MICHAEL MYERS: Jamie Lee Curtis was considered for the heroine for the original 1978 Halloween by John Carpenter as a tribute to Alfred Hitchcock. (Janet Leigh, famous for the shower scene in Hitchcock’s Psycho, is Jamie Lee Curtis’s mother. The movie, produced in 12 weeks, was shot on a shoestring budget of only $300,000 and went on to make $47 million. It was the most profitable independent film ever made until The Blair Witch Project in 1999. John Carpenter was paid $10,000 for the film, and Nick Castle, who played Michael Myers, was paid only $25 a day. The sound of slashing flesh was created by stabbing a watermelon. Myers mask was another side effect of a low budget. It was derived from William Shatner’s likeness because they purchased a Captain Kirk mask, peeled off the eyebrows and some hair, and spray painted it white.

This article was originally composed for Mark Leslie’s weekly #FreeFridayFrights

You can also watch the video on my Facebook page, where a fun POLL has also been embedded.

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