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The Romance Review


A Little Fact, A Little Fantasy and A Lot of Fun!

Retailers thrive on it; parents dread it; children love it. Christians fear it. Ever wondered, what’s it all about anyway?

The Celts are the founders of what we now call Halloween. At this time of year they celebrated the festival of Samhain; it was the night before their new year began and marked the end of the harvest season. The Celts believed that on this night witches and ghosts roamed around and the souls of the deceased came home to visit their kin. Huge bonfires were lit to scare away witches and food was put out to make the dead souls welcome.

Later Roman conquerors combined their own festival to honour the dead with the celebration of Samhain. When the Catholic Church decided in the 800's to make November 1 a holiday called “All Hallows Day” or “All Saints Day” the evening before became known as “All Hallows Eve.” Although the church tried desperately to discourage the old pagan ideas, people still clung to the belief that souls, witches and ghosts, roamed the earth on that night. They lit candles and lanterns to keep them away. Costumes and masks were worn to keep their unearthly ancestors from recognizing them.

The Irish were the inventors of the “trick or treat” idea. Centuries ago groups of villagers went from house to house on Halloween begging for food for a community feast that was held, so no one would be alone on this sinister evening. Those who gave generously were promised prosperity while those who were stingy were threatened with misfortune.

The Jack-O-Lantern has its roots in an old Irish legend that tells of a man called Jack, who tricked the Devil. As punishment, the Devil made him walk through the world forever. The Devil gave Jack a burning coal to put inside the turnip he was eating, to make a lantern to light his way. Placing a candle inside a hollowed turnip became a popular Halloween custom in Ireland but, here in Canada, people found it simpler and more convenient to carve pumpkins for their Jack-O-Lanterns. In the early 1800's many Irish people immigrated to North America, bringing with them all the legends, superstitions and traditions of what we now call Halloween. Ireland is still the only place in the world where Halloween is a national holiday.

And did you know? Harry Houdini died on Halloween in 1926, and the anniversary of his death is observed by many groups of magicians. In fact, October 31 is also National Magic Day, which fits right in with the whole spirit of Halloween, don’t you think?

Here are some suggestions for your Halloween celebrations.

  • Green Garbage Bag Costumes, ‘Cheap and Easy’

Cut holes for your legs and step inside. Fill the bag with crumpled paper, cut holes for your arms. Gather the top of the bag loosely around your neck and tie it with a red ribbon, Put on a red hat. You’re an olive stuffed with pimento! Wear a green sweater, green stockings, green garbage bag and a hat with a feather in it. You are now Robin Hood.

  • Ghostly Messages

Give each one of your guests a tooth pick and a piece of paper. Tell them to dip their toothpick into a bowl of lemon juice and write a sinister message on the paper. Let the juice dry and exchange papers. To read the Ghostly Message, hold the paper in front of a warm light bulb. The letters will darken.

  • Convert a room into a chamber of Horrors

You will need a room that can be closed off from the rest of the house. Your guests must be blindfolded. As you guide them into the room, tell your victims you’ve just come from helping your master cut up a body. To add to the atmosphere, wear black clothes, rubber gloves and speak softly. Play a tape of eerie music and hang strands of thread in the doorway so it brushes against the victims face as they enter. Use your imagination and have fun while creating your chamber of Horrors. For instance, a small bowl of peeled grapes can be a collection of eyeballs; a dish of cold spaghetti is the dead man’s intestines; cut up pieces of wet sponge make great brains and dry kernels of corn make perfect teeth. A rubber glove stuffed with wet paper towel becomes a dead hand. Keep it in a shallow dish of water so it feels clammy on the outside when touched. Put a ring on its finger for even more gruesome effect.

Swamp Water Punch

1 large can of concentrated orange juice, same amount of water.

1 litre of white grape juice.

5 drops of green food colouring.

Washed assorted plastic spiders, flies, rubber snakes or other plastic crawlies.

1 large bottle of lemon-lime carbonated soda pop.

Ice cubes.

Put everything except the plastic crawlies and pop into a large punch bowl and stir.

Dump 2 trays of ice cubes into the bowl.

Float plastic crawlies on top of the punch.

When your friends are ready to drink, pour the soda into the bowl. The concoction will start to fizz and bubble, bouncing your crawlies in and out of the ghostly brew!