Tag Archives: Ghosts

The History of Halloween

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We all celebrate Halloween but how much do you really know about it? Here’s a little history lesson for Halloween!

Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in).

The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.

During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

By A.D. 43, Romans had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.

The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of “bobbing” for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.

By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints’ Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints’, All Saints’, and All Souls’, were called Hallowmas.

 

Interested in going deeper and learning more about Halloween? I strongly recommend this Book: Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween by Lisa Morton
http://www.amazon.com/Trick-Treat-A-History-Halloween/dp/1780230478

Halloween Village Favorites

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I have always wanted a Halloween village. Sure, most people have Christmas villages with happy ice skaters and a cheery Santa frolicking in the snow but I’ve always wanted a village of dead trees, spooky creatures and haunted houses! I have yet to acquire any parts of my Halloween village, but one day I hope to have a sizable collection. I fin it is the perfect final addition to great indoor Halloween decor. Pictured below you will find pieces that inspire me and, I hope, inspire you too! Which ones do you like?  Happy Halloween!

 

Halloween Candy Review: Gummy Eyeballs

Throughout the month I will be reviewing unusually creepy Halloween candy. Anyone can give out the usual M&M, Snickers, Milky Way, Twix mix. Stand out by giving a unique treat that will both repulse and excite the kids in your neighborhood.

25_5801Today we will be taking a look at a Halloween classic, gummy eyeballs! The Marshmallow Eyeballs were great, but these gummies have an 20121026_164728eerie, slimy texture that resemble actually chomping down on an eyeball.
When you first look at the packaging you get a nice drawing of bloodshot, floating eyeballs. The only deceptive thing about the packaging is that the gummy candy is actually flat and not round like an eyeball. This actually works out very well for placing on top of cupcakes, cakes, or other Halloween related foods you may have baked this year!
The consistency is very chewy, but not as tough as a traditional gummy bear. There is a lot of chewing and slimy consistency, which turns out to be a little gross!
Regardless of the gross factor, the kids in your neighborhood will definitely remember your house if you give out these gummy eyeballs! It’s all about making a memorable moment on Halloween night for kids everywhere.

Candy available at Oriental Trading!

Mother / Son Halloween Costumes

Okay, moms, you’re not off the hook either! Yesterday we looked at some great father / daughter costume ideas, so today I thought I’d give you moms out there some ideas to dress up with your son. I’m not sure your husbands have been pressuring you about Halloween costumes, so you have a little less pressure!

 

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Little Aviator. Give your boy the gift of flight this Halloween by being his airplane.

 

 

 

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S’Mores. Here’s one the entire family can get in on!

 

 

 

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Princess and Mario. Every little plumber needs a princess to save! Plus, your son can run around trying to squish goombas all night long, burning off his sugar high!

 

 

 

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1950’s Greaser. Get your son in the mood to dance, woo the girl and get all the candy! Heeyyyyy!

 

 

 

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Ghost and Spider.
For those with younger boys, decorate his baby carrier as a spider and throw on an old sheet to make a spooky ghost costume.

 

 

Movie Giveaway: Win Monster House and Hotel Transylvania

As part of my 31 Days of Halloween festivities I will be holding several contests throughout the month, including a movie giveaway, jack-o’-lantern contest, and costume contest.

Today I will be giving away copies of two fantastic Halloween inspired films, Hotel Transylvania and Monster House. Details below!
Bookmark this post so you can come back all week to edit your entry or tell your friends.
NOTE: Film will be in your country’s Region Code, so everyone from around the globe is eligible!

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My Top 5 Indoor Halloween Decorations

Do you live in a place where weather (or HOA rules) won’t let you put Halloween decorations outside? As a follow up to my Top 5 Outdoor Halloween Decorations, here are 5 indoor decorations that will have your guests shrieking with ghoulish delight! (I hit my cliche quota for the day)
All decorations available at Oriental Trading.

 

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Spooky Lighted Lace Curtain. Hang this up in your window to set a spooky scene. I’ve also hung it on doors and mirrors to create a similarly eerie effect.

 

 

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Haunted House Night Light. I like to put this in the guest bathroom or bedroom. It’s always a fun way to get your guests in the mood for Halloween!

 

 

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Halloween Bathroom Collection. Again, stick this in your guest bathroom. If your guests and family are not in the mood for Halloween, well you just gave them no choice! Plus, kids seem to love when the bathroom is decorated for holidays. I’m not sure why, but it is true. I suppose it is also a good way to get your kids to use the bathroom more often.

 

 

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Witch Shelf Sitter. Not everything has to be creepy! Add a little bit of cute to your Halloween decor (so as to not scare your kids too much) with this plush witch.

 

 

 

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Halloween Taper Candles. Give the kids a reason to sit around your dinner table again! They will be eerily drawn to the flickering orange candles haunting the table, and then you can ask them how their day was while you have their attention.

 

 

Look for more decorating ideas later this month!

Fantastic Halloween Adventure: Disney’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

legendofsleepyhollowOne of my best childhood memories of Halloween is sitting around the TV turning on the Disney Channel and watching The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. For those who don’t know the story, it basically involves a very superstitious and easily scared school teacher, Mr. Ichabod Crane, being told a spooky story of a headless horsemen by the town prankster. When Ichabod makes his way home after the gathering, he is chased down by this headless horsemen and never heard from again.

This story appeals to such a broad audience because we all love a good unsolved mystery. Kids enjoy it because it is spooky, scary and a stern reminder not to run off alone!

The easily frightened Ichabod Crane
The easily frightened Ichabod Crane

The animation may leave younger kids a bit disappointed as it is not CGI and is actually hand drawn (oh, the horror)! However, they will quickly forget that little tidbit as they are sucked into the world of Sleepy Hollow. The daytime settings are pleasant to look at, which gives you a nice secure feeling. Hold on to that feeling. You’re going to need it.
When night falls on Sleepy Hollow the quiet, melodic town turns into a foreboding maze of dark forests, dimly lit cabins and dark, unlit paths. Of course, this is the part that is most appealing to kids and adults on Halloween night. If you talk to your kids and explain tot hem that the dark is not scary, and that the headless horsemen is not, in fact, real, they will not be frightened and will be able to enjoy the story for what it is.

The sense of fear and adventure stirs something primal in all of us, which is why this story and this cartoon version of it, continues to enthrall us all these years later.
Sit down and put this family friendly telling of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow in your DVD player!

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is available on DVD from Amazon.com

My Top 5 Outdoor Halloween Decorations

As you now know, decorating is one of my favorite things about Halloween. Maybe you’re looking to add a little Halloween ambiance to your neighborhood. If you’re not, you should! Your goal should be to inspire your entire block to decorate for Halloween as thoroughly as possible! When I started decorating, my parents’ house was the only one on the block putting any effort into it. A few years later a couple of other houses got in the mix. Not quite total domination, but I’ll take it. In keeping with the theme of my blog, these decorations will be safe for the entire family!
All items available from Oriental Trading.

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Ghost Tree Hugger. Wrap this little guy around a tree, fence bush, etc. for simple and festive Halloween decor!

 

 

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Spider Pumpkin Push Ins. Have an extra pumpkin around that you didn’t carve? Stick these creepy spiders on them to  turn a plain pumpkin into something festive.

 

 

 

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Betty Bash the Crashing Witch. The classic! This is a great way to add a bit of humor to your Halloween decorations.

 

 

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Grim Reaper Carriage.  Don’t settle for just pumpkins and tree decorations. Erect this grim reaper in your yard and get the neighborhood’s attention!

 

 

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Color Changing Mummy. Set this guy down on the lawn, surrounded by some fake moss or soil and you have an instant eye-catching mummy emerging from your front lawn!

 

 

So, there you have it! Look for more outdoor decor ideas later this month!

SALE: Jeremy, the Jack-O’-Lantern

In preparation for Halloween, which is quickly approaching, my publisher and I have set a temporary discount on my children’s picture book, Jeremy, the Jack-o’-Lantern. Now through October 31st, save 15% off the cover price only at Lulu.com !

Get in the mood for Halloween and share this story with your kids, neighbors, friends, relatives, or anyone who enjoys Halloween!

 

Jeremy Cover 001What does a pumpkin think about being turned into a jack-o’-lantern? Join Jeremy as he goes from a small pumpkin on a vine to a delightfully wicked jack-o’-lantern! Go on a journey as Jeremy experiences Halloween for the first time!

 

 

What’s Your Favorite Part of Halloween?

shutterstock_70173520Living in Southern California my entire life, I can say I’ve never experienced a true Fall Halloween. Most of my Halloween memories come on hot nights staying out late trick or treating. We would usually go with a few kids from the street and all make our way around the entire neighborhood, covering parts that we had never been to before and haven’t been since. Halloween night was that one magical time when you could be guided by your parents to the farthest reaches of the neighborhood. What lies around the next corner? How many porch lights are on on this street? The excitement that comes with roaming round your neighborhood, knocking on doors and getting free candy is a rush that is unmatched with anything else in life. It is the greatest sense of adventure any kid can have.

Now that I can no longer trick or treat myself, decorating is my favorite part of Halloween. I enjoy making a home as frighteningly fun as possible. It’s always great to add to a kids’ Halloween night adventure by providing a memorable, spooky setting in which to trick or treat.

As I said earlier, living in Southern California my entire life, I’ve always longed for the picturesque Halloween atmosphere: Brown trees, falling leaves, Halloween carnivals and pumpkin patches. This is why another one of my favorite parts of Halloween is watching as many Halloween related movies and TV shows as possible. There’s something special about Halloween episodes of TV shows or movies taking place on a chilly Halloween night. I find the atmosphere enthralling and inspiring, which is why I primarily like to write Halloween stories. I get to live in Halloween land all year long!

Now I ask you, fellow Halloween fan. What is your favorite part of Halloween?