‘Whatever you give a woman, she’s going to multiply it. If you give her a house, she’ll give you a home. If you give her groceries, she’ll give you a meal. If you give her a smile, she’ll give you her heart. She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her. So - if you give her any crap, you will receive a ton of shit.’ Love and appreciate all the women in your life.
- A Kindergardener painting a pet rock says: I'm going to name mine "Rock Obama."
- A 3rd grader having heard my explanation of the origins of Halloween says: Actually, my parents told me Halloween is the devil's birthday. It's in the Bible- look it up.
Well, you’ve come to the right place for Halloween knowledge, of course. I’ll try to boil this down as simply as possible, because the entire story of the origin of the holiday is extremely complex, and most online sources are dubious at best, and rarely offer any reputable footnotes. You will find many sources that smear Halloween as both “pagan” and “evil” - it is indeed of pagan (pre-Christian) origin, but there is no reason to conclude that the ancient festival was really a “celebration of evil.”
The original version of Halloween was an Irish and Scottish harvest festival called Samhain (the ancient gaelic word is properly pronounced more like sowen, with the “sow” part pronounced like “cow”).
The festival marked the end of the harvest season, and was also a memorial day for the dead, especially those who had died during the past year. That’s why Halloween is associated with death - it was sort of like our Memorial Day, but without the military emphasis.
But November 1st also marked the beginning of the new year for the ancient Celts, so the evening of October 31st was also the equivalent of New Year’s Eve.
At that time, there was a Celtic belief that chaos prevailed during this evening between the old and new year, so there was much opportunity for the practice of mischief and practical jokes.
More importantly, the veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead was believed to become thin during this evening. Thus, those who had passed on to the afterlife might mingle with those who were still living, and you didn’t necessarily want to meet the dead.
Also, the famous fairies of Celtic legend were believed to be especially active at this time, and they had a habit of dressing up as humans and going door to door in search of gifts and handouts of food, rewarding generosity and punishing stinginess.
Humans would take advantage of these circumstances and would get in on the act by also dressing up - pretending to be fairies dressed up as humans, you see. You wouldn’t want your neighbors to recognize you, of course, so you would try to conceal your identity. The practice of disguising oneself in this manner also had the benefit of helping to hide one’s identity from the wandering dead, just in case they might be inclined to harm you, perhaps in revenge for some injustice prior to their death.
These door to door ramblers are said to have carried lanterns made from hollowed-out turnips or gourds, carved or painted, containing candles or hot coals. Pumpkins were not used, since pumpkins did not exist in ancient Europe - the pumpkin is a vegetable from the New World, and was not adopted for this purpose until much later in America.
All of this is pretty speculative, though, since no written records survive from the time. It’s mostly consigned to folklore at this point.
We do know that early Christian authorities had an interest in replacing pre-Christian holidays with Christian ones, such that the cultures have become hopelessly intermingled with one another. Same with Halloween. The early Christian version was “All Saint’s Day,” also called “All Hallow’s Evening,” which was eventually shortened to “Hallows e’en” - see where this is going? Halloween. It remained a memorial observance for the dead, although now in honor of deceased saints.
People managed to continue the dress-up activity by claiming that they were dressing up as historical saints and similar religious figures, and going door to door to beg for contributions to the poor. The church couldn’t see much wrong with that, so the practice persisted.
In America, Halloween wasn’t really practiced as we know it today until the early 1920’s. There was a problem with vandalism and arson on this evening, then known as “Devil’s Night,” so youth groups like the Boy Scouts began to encourage parents to direct their kids toward a less destructive activity, reviving the dressing up and door-to-door begging. This also helped to put many eyes and ears on the street, which made it more difficult for vandals to get away with their crimes. Hilariously, it seems that the vandals responded by simply moving Devil’s Night to the night before Halloween, although I have no idea when this transition occurred.
So there you have it. That’s about as short a version as I can come up with - and, oh my gosh, upon reviewing my work, I see that’s it’s really not very brief. Well, I tried! Edit as necessary.
Thank you Kit!! -Alli
- Abby the 3rd Grader: I put a chicken in my picture because otherwise it would've been boring.
- Me: Yes, when I am bored I often think, "What I need is a chicken."
- Abby: Huh?
- Me: What?
- Abby: Nevermind.
- Me: Nice Chicken.
If you are quite furry, be it growly or purry,
If you have a muzz that is covered in fuzz-
I’ll love you, I’ll tame you,
and then I’ll nick-name you
For we have a life-long bond to begin.
Come in! Come in!” —
(inspired by S. Silverstein’s “Come In!”)
- Cara: My vote should carry more weight since I will have to hear and talk about them more than most randoms coming from your Facebook and Twitter accounts!
- Chery: We REALLY think they need BIG names as you said they are Russian ones to boot. So here they are: Vladmir, Zonko, Tolstoy, Gustoff, Anna Karenina, Rusheena, Verenka.
- Betty: What.....I only get to vote for one name, when you have three, I say 3, hamsters?? No fair and I protest!
- Curtis: I can't possibly vote without seeing a photo.
- Cara: They are ALL GIRLS!? You needed to say that. It would've changed the votes. No one would've picked Pickles for a girl.
- Abby: We want Scout, Pfife, and Chili! Think about it....
- Cara: I wouldn't even call some of those names. They are more like... words.
- Deborah: I must say I learned of your hamster contest today and started trying to think of names for your furry family members.... of course I came up with Athos, Aramis and Porthos...the 3 muskateers. But then to my disappointment....to learn of a poll.. and only one vote?!?! oh my.
- Cheryl: I think you need a write-in! What the heck?
- Sam: What about the name Huxley for one of the Hamsters?
- Sharon: I would have gone with edith and violet for your ladies.
- Abby: Oh (they're) girls...need to rethink the names...Scoutisha, Pfifey, and Chilirelli... Should I keep thinking???
- Doug: My 3 favorite names aren't doing so well. I really like them best together, so I have to say that if you go with Pezmo, you must also choose Kiwi and Zoom.
- Nate: At least he stuck to the proposed names. I give him credit there.
- John: I can not get to the polls. I need an absentee ballot. Can you help? I have some great write in names for the herd.
- Tony: tipsy-pickles.
- Cheryl: How bout Sandy as in beach & Utah. Lava or La Perose for the darker one. (I can't remember the Hawaiian name ...for the ouchy, jagged kind....Ah Ah?
- Betty & Co: We submit for your consideration: Enie, Meanie & Mynie or Moe...Fe, Fi, Fo or Fum...Tic, Tack,& Toe...Bud, Lite & Weiser. Snap, Crackle & Pop? and from some cat lovers: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
- Allison: No hamster will be called Tic, Bud, Toe or anything that suggests a taste!
- Nate: What about Pickles and Kiwi?
- Allison: Okay, let me clarify people- Kiwi- as in a kiwi that is INTACT- is brown round and fuzzy. And pickles as in [having gotten oneself into a difficult situation].
- Nate: I've had 53 page-loads on my website already this morning... 'Wish they were coming to see my artwork!
- Susan: How about Smirnoff, Kahlua and Carnation (I liked that better than milk or Trauth)... the key ingredients in a white russian drink?