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Ben Picks Ten: Scary Facts about Hallowe’en October 30, 2009

Posted by ourfriendben in pets, Uncategorized, wit and wisdom.
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Actually, our friend Ben must confess, maybe these aren’t as much scary as obscure. Unless, of course, you find turnips as terrifying as our friend Ben does! See how many of these you know:

1. Even the name is scary. The holiday was originally called “All Hallows’ Even” [evening], then condensed to Hallowe’en, now more commonly Halloween. “Hallows” are ghosts, and Hallowe’en was the night when the dead rose from their graves and walked abroad, terrifying all and sundry and encouraging God-fearing folks to bolt their doors and stay in their beds. Presumably, this put them in a more grateful frame of mind for the great holiday that follows the next day, November 1, All Saints’ Day.

2. The first Hallowe’en pumpkins weren’t pumpkins. Pumpkins are a New World vegetable, but Hallowe’en originated in Europe long before pumpkins traveled across the Pond. The first jack-o-lanterns were huge carved turnips with candles or burning coals inside.  Aaarrrgghhh, turnips! Talk about scary!

3. Hallowe’en inspired the first American horror story. This was, of course, Washington Irving’s short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” first published in 1820, in which the Headless Horseman, usually depicted either wearing or brandishing a jack-o-lantern instead of a head, pursues poor Ichabod Crane to a dreadful end. (But at least it wasn’t a turnip!) I say it’s the first American horror story rather than the first horror story because, though Bram Stoker’s Dracula wasn’t published until 1897, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was published in 1818.

4. People dress their pets. Our friend Ben found a website listing the most popular pet Hallowe’en costumes for 2009. They are, in order: Dorothy dog costume, Yoda dog costume, cowboy riding the dog costume, Batman dog costume, Minnie Mouse dog costume, Wonder Woman dog costume, Shrek dog costume, school girl pup costume, king or queen cat costume, and Princess Leia dog costume. Now, that’s scary!

5. And they empty their pockets. Here’s another scary thing about Hallowe’en: It’s expensive. Statistics show that most people spend about $45 on treats alone, and that doesn’t count money spent on decorations or costumes (which can cost from $24.95 to $449.95). Yow!

6. It’s a vandal’s best friend. Whether somebody’s sticking a razor blade in your kid’s apple, smashing your mailbox, toilet-papering your trees and bushes, or tossing rotten pumpkins on your driveway, Hallowe’en is a great excuse for acting out. And our friend Ben thinks that’s really rotten.

7. Your pets are in danger. If you have indoor/outdoor or outdoor cats that happen to be black, please try to keep them inside on Hallowe’en. Otherwise, some sickos might capture them for “ritual” torture. This is a real hazard, but the far more likely hazard is chocolate poisoning caused by your dog or cat getting into the kids’ treat bags or your own treat bowl. Pets can’t tolerate chocolate like we can, so please make sure it’s out of their reach at all times. One other danger for pets at Hallowe’en: If trick-or-treaters come to the door in scary costumes and your pet is in the room, s/he may bolt out the door. We’re not the only ones who find those costumes frightening, especially if there are big hats and so on involved. Keep your pet confined in a safe and secure place during trick-or-treating hours.

8. It’s no longer held on Hallowe’en. Our friend Ben doesn’t get this at all, but I do find it frightening: In this area, at least, each community chooses a day for trick-or-treating, none of which is actually on Hallowe’en. Not only do you never know when people might turn up at your door, but it divorces the trick-or-treat experience from the holiday so it’s just meaningless greed. Why?!!  

9. Talk about ghoulish. What’s the most popular men’s costume for 2009, according to one website I saw? Did you guess… Michael Jackson?! Apparently even the vampire contingent couldn’t beat the Moonwalker this Hallowe’en. Get out your glove.

10. Prepare to gain weight. The average American eats 25 pounds of candy a year, and Hallowe’en is a great excuse to pig out—either you’re out trick-or-treating or you’re home with that $45 of Snickers, Milky Ways, Tootsie Rolls, candy corn, Nestle’s Crunch, and Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bars (statistically the most popular Hallowe’en treats). 35 million pounds of candy corn are manufactured each year, and if that’s not scary—given how horrible it tastes—our friend Ben doesn’t know what is. Not to mention that just 12 of those seemingly insignificant little chocolate and other candy treats in the bag or bowl contain about 30 packets of sugar, in addition to all the fat and other hi-cal ingredients. Given that a whole hour of walking burns just 148 to 302 calories, and that just one of those tiny Snickers bars has 80 calories, if you scarf up 10, you’re looking at 800 calories and maybe 5 hours of exercise to get them off. Are you scared yet?!

What scares you at Hallowe’en?

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Comments»

1. Lzyjo - October 30, 2009

On the radio I heard there are two version of the Michael Jackson mask. The brown and the white version…..Please tell me $449.95 is for a custom made leather costume requiring weeks of intensive construction? That list of pet costumes is pathetic! Etsy has some many original designs. One of my favorites is the dino spine jacket. You have to check out Etsy’s Pug Vs. Chihuahua snout-off. A total cute overload of pet items.

http://www.etsy.com/storque/etc/etsy-snout-off-pug-vs-chihuahua-5273/

Have you also heard about the upsurge of, for lack of a better word, slutty costumes for teens and pre-teens. WOW, I saw a special and almost none of the costumes had a midriff section on the bodice. It was really extreme. They interviewed a mother w probably 13 year old daughter who finally settled on a cheerleader outfit that had a sweater of the other skimp top. LOL! The mom even acknowledged that the daughter would only have the sweater on around her….

I’m proud to say I never had costume from a commercially licensed character. Gack. I’m choking. Why do the corporations have to ruin the sentimentality of every holiday… No more handmade valentines with hand-cut hearts and doilies. Just cartoon characters with a fill-in-the -blank for the name, or a generic saying…Blast! Every bloody ‘oliday! That’s what scares me about Halloween. An Iron triangle of candy companies, movie companies, sweatshops that make crappy costumes. Who are all probably owned by the same parent companies. Fight the powah!

$499 was for an adult’s Batman costume (I thought that was supposed to be rubber, not leather, at least according to one memorable line from the Val Kilmer Batman movie, but what do I know… ). I LOVE the idea of a snout-off!!! Though it would be awfully hard to beat our Shiloh’s snout for sheer size and wolf- or shark-like grandeur. We actually considered getting her a fin as a costume, but doubt they come in black. (Speaking of which, I can’t believe even the marketers would be sick enough to do the dual MJ masks. Eeewwww!!!!) Anyway, check out our post tomorrow for a real indictment of Hallowe’en commercialism!

2. Cinj - October 30, 2009

People who dress up their pets have to have a few loose screws, I mean really? I know people who dress up like those animals. How silly.

On the bright side when we came here from MN we used to get hundreds of trick or treaters. Now we got not a one. Talk about saving money!

We’ve never gotten one here, either, Cinj! But you never know…

3. Gail - October 30, 2009

“Terrified!” she says, as she nibbles on her new favorite chocolate candy (locally made, Olive Sinclair Chocolates). She, of course, has no intention of sharing these with any stray Trick or Treaters who might venture up the hill to the dark and spooky house.

Halloween was the best kid holiday ever. Was being the operative word. Too bad adults have taken it over. We are invited to a party tonight…the theme is dead celebrities. We will not be going in costume…We got a pass from that ordeal. I wonder how many Michael J’s there will be?

gail

Oh, no, Gail! Did you see that article on MSN.com this morning on the wealthiest dead celebrities? Talk about a scream! If memory serves, the top five for this year were Yves Saint Laurent, Elvis, Michael Jackson, Rodgers and Hammerstein (collectively), and—get this!!!—JRR Tolkien!!! Go Bilbo go!!!

4. Jen - October 30, 2009

Lzyjo is right- I chaperoned the middle school dance this year and let me tell you, the girls outfits (or lack thereof) were SCARY. My 11 year old tried to go out of the house with lipstick and eyeliner on. I made her take it off, but when we got there it was clear that she was the ONLY ONE not allowed to wear it. So I am the mean mommy. (Oh, and I am also the person with the loose screw who likes to dress up their pet. It’s okay. I’m secure enough with my crazyness to finally be able to admit it ;-)

Another scary thing is that my kids have asked to go trick or treating at THE MALL. Can you imagine? New York’s second biggest mall is very close to my house and apparently, that is why we got so few trick or treaters in our actual neighborhood last year. I’d be so happy if some would show up at the door this year. But I won’t be going “all out” anymore.

Trick or treating at the MALL, Jen?!! Do you mean the stores give out treats? Geez, talk about feeling out of it, I’d never have thought! Having just returned from the grocery, where one of the cashiers was wearing a costume that was noticeable for its absence, I can just imagine what you’re going through (and seeing). I (Silence) could only think, if people wanted to see something REALLY scary for Hallowe’en, maybe I should put on a costume like that!!! But I digress. As for Miss B., when you have such an adorable-looking dog, how could you resist? Shiloh would lend herself beautifully to a Dracula cape and batwings, since she’s already black and has fangs. But until she’s old enough to sit still and be admired, we’ll just have to keep her Hallowe’en potential under wraps…

5. fairegarden - October 30, 2009

Well I had one comment ready until the mall thing threw me off my game. When we lived in southern CA, Hallowe’en was HUGE! Every single person dressed up, people with office jobs, all the grocery people, parents, grandparents, and of course the kids. It was great. But the greatest thing was taking the kids trick or treating at the mall. Light bright, and yes, all the stores gave out treats. We were not comfortable going door to door in that weird place. Not like back home in good old Berwick where we knew every single neighbor. The school kids went on a parade walk through the neighborhood in costume. We videotaped it. I think. I had hopes of hats on the cats, even made them myself out of construction paper, orange cones with black moons and stars, but it has been a no go so far. :-0
Frances

Cat hats, Frances! You may have to put them on your pumpkins instead!


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