Halloween Trivia

I have lots of Halloween memories of going out trick-or-treating with my friends. Most of them are weather-related. The unbelievably frigid year (and being made to wear winter parka and snow pants underneath my costume). The balmy year. The pouring rain year when the bottom of the paper bag I was using to collect the goods got all wet and disintegrated dumping my load.

My kids will remember this Halloween for the same reason. With the weekend storm, two trees laying on my roof, wires down all over town, and thousands still without power, our town has requested that no trick-or-treating take place. In other words, Halloween has been cancelled. If you find yourself in my position, with two glum kids to entertain, check out this article.

In the 7th century, Pope Boniface IV introduced All Saints Day to replace the pagan festival of the dead, and observed it May 13. Finally, in the 8th century Pope Gregory III changed the date to Nov. 1. By the 9th century the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands, and gradually blended with and replaced the older Celtic rites. It is believed that Christians were attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. Halloween means All Hallows Eve, or the night before the “All Hallows” also called “All Saints Day” or “All Souls Day” observed Nov. 1. In old English the word “Hallow” meant sanctify. Roman Catholics, Episcopalians and Lutherans used to observe All Hallows Day to honor all saints in heaven and was one of the most significant observances of the church year. Participants made sacrifices in honor of the dead and offered prayers for them.

This Jack-O-Lantern story was new to me:

The story of the jack-o’-lantern is about a shifty farmer named Jack who tricked the devil into climbing a tree to pick a piece of fruit. When the devil reached the highest branch, Jack carved a large cross in the trunk, which made it impossible for the devil to climb down. In exchange for help to get out of the tree, the devil promised never to tempt Jack with evil again. When Jack died, he was turned away from Heaven because of his dealing with the devil and because of his sins and Jack was turned away from hell because of his trickery with the devil. Condemned to wander the earth, Jack carved out one of his turnips, took an ember from the devil and used it for a lantern to light his way. As he wandered the earth as a ghost, he became known as “Jack of the Lantern.” In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack’s lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Jack and other wandering evil spirits.

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