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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?