Saturday, October 30, 2010

Facts, New or Not: Halloween Edition

This edition of Facts, New or Not celebrates all things Halloween.

✦ Halloween's origins date to the Celtic festival of Samhain (sow-in).

✦ The history of the jack-o-lantern is told in the story of "Stingy Jack". In Ireland, where pumpkins are not native, turnips have long been carved to ward off evil spirits.

✦ According to the Guiness Book of World Records, the largest gathering of zombies took place in Ledbury, Herefordshire, United Kingdom, on August 6, 2009, when 4,026 individuals participated in "The Big Chill Festival". 

✦ The Cutting Edge Haunted House, in Fort Worth, Texas, holds the record for longest walk through a horror house: 2,261.08 feet.

✦ Salem, Massachusetts, scene of the Witch Trials of 1692, boasts both a Witch Dungeon Museum and a Witch History Museum. The town celebrates the "Festival of the Dead" throughout October. 

✦ While you're out a-haunting, beware of black cats crossing your path. Some maintain that black cats are themselves witches, not just witches' protectors, and that there's only one remedy for them. Learn "How to Kill a Witch" by consulting What They Say in New England: A Book of Signs, Sayings, and Superstitions.

✦ The werewolf is the stuff of legends the world over. Everything you could possibly want to know about the beast you'll find at Werewolf Page.

✦ Fruitcake isn't limited to Christmas, especially in Ireland. On Halloween, a type known as barnbrack contains a treat that is wrapped in muslin and said to foretell the eater's future. You'll find a recipe here. Do let me know how it tastes.

✦ No Halloween party would be complete without bobbing for apples. It's a practice believed to have originated somewhere in the British Isles, as this historic timeline indicates.

✦ Our nation's revered Arlington National Cemetery has its own share of ghosts. According to this history of ghosts, ancient Rome's Pliny the Younger recorded one of the first ghost stories.

✦ Philadelphia's Wunderle Candy Company was the first to create candy corn, in the 1880s.

✦ The top costumes of 2010: Buzz Lightyear and Alice in Wonderland, according to the National Retail Federation. Go here for Halloween costume inspiration and ideas and then get busy.

✦ Yes, Virginia, there really is a Haunted House Association.

And just to everything straight, here's a visual history of Halloween to enjoy.

Saturday Sharing will be back next week!


Deborah Barlow said...

Another post that covers all the bases. Rich history, to be sure. Thanks M!

Hannah Stephenson said...

So delightful!! Although I love black black cat, Quincy, does have a decided streak of evil in her...but I find it cute.

Happy weekend to you, Maureen!

Madame Rubies said...

Ha! My black cats are boys, Hocus & Pocus are their names. Guess they are warlocks then. They cross my path regularly, so maybe my jet black hair makes me immune?

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Anonymous said...

Yes, Buzz showed up at my house last night for trick or treat. You are right on target! said...

My first black cat was definitely female and definitely witchy.

You, my dear, are a total fount of information! Thanks for all this --