Halloweens spellbinding customs

By Caryl Clem:

As summer ends on October 31 and fall begins November 1st according to the Gaul calendar, the boundary between the living and the dead dissolves freeing spirits of the past to roam free. Unknown whether a visiting spirit is friend or foe, your logical defense was to dress up like a ghost spirit to camouflage that you are still alive. Food is served for all visitors to spread the message of goodwill. Samhain was the most important holiday for Celts in pre-Christian times.  Later, medieval poor of all ages go door to door begging for “Soul Cakes”, in exchange for praying for the family’s past relatives on the Catholic Church’s All Saints Day.

In Scotland and Ireland, the youth dressed up knocking on neighbors doors entertaining the door opener with a heartfelt song, poetry, or telling a funny story. After a brief performance and review of the costume, a reward of fruit, nuts, or coins would be given. During the potato famine in 1846, over 300,000  people from Ireland and Scotland headed for North America .

The influence of Scottish, Irish and British Halloween customs started to spread across America. By the late 1800’s, it was a common practice. Wealthy families competed by hosting elaborate Halloween parties offering food, games, dancing, and drink for costumed guests. Churches offered parties for the young and old that my grandmother, born in 1885 and mother born in 1908, remembered.

Apples were sacrificial fruit in pagan times.  By 1800’s in the northeastern states. apple bobbing meant  male guests diving for previously marked apples secretly coded by ladies. The coupling between these women and men is believed destined to occur. If a young lady can peel an apple in one long strip, she throws the strip over her right shoulder to glance at the letter the apple peel forms on the floor. The initial formed foretells of a lover nearby with a name of that letter.  At midnight, a maiden can look between a lit Jack O’Lantern and a mirror  to find an image of her future husband.

Halloween is less scary as chubby faced  kids appear celebrating Halloween fun in 1904  by artist Grace Drayton, Campbell Soup kid creator. The postcard craze postcard craze to celebrate Halloween lasted from late 1890’s until 1918. A delightful sample is in this link Brave this bounty of 27 beautiful and bizarre antique Halloween… 

The Depression and a sugar ration dampened Halloween giving until the late 1930’s as communities started to sponsor family/kid friendly activities.

 

America’s haunted tourist attractions

Beginning this trip on the West Coast and making our way across the country, to a once famous ship who boasted five dining areas, lounges, two cocktail bars and swimming pools, grand ballroom and even a small hospital. The Queen Mary was the only civilized way to travel carrying celebrities such as Bob Hope and dignitaries such as Clark Gable. As World War II started, the ship was stripped of its luxury, returned to passenger travel after, and departed on her final destination. She is now a floating Hotel, attraction and event venue that hosts. Dark Harbor, a unique haunting experience that offers an unforgettable scare.

Midwest:

Erebus, located in Pontiac Michigan, is considered one of the largest venues with crushing walls and bottomless pits. The four-story haunted house tells a story of Dr. Colbert who actually built a time machine for the government. He broke away. Did it in secret in this building downtown Pontiac. And every time he put someone in his time machine, the time period looked at them as a virus and wiped them out. Obsessed with trying to make this thing work, he sent more and more of his people into the machine. Eventually he ran out of personnel and ran out of financing. But then he had a brilliant idea: disguise the time machine as a haunted house. Now he had an endless supply of human guinea pigs willing to go in, but also to help finance the program.

East

One of America’s scariest is Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania consistently ranked in the top ten of haunted attractions. This is a massive haunted house in a real prison. Real stories are brought to life in the famed Cell block 12. Visitors have options: they can explore the prison and watch or they can opt for interactivity which includes being grabbed, held back or even removed from their group. Many do believe that the Penitentiary is haunted. Officer and inmates have reported visions or strange experiences.

South

The 13th Gate in Baton Rouge, is one of the largest haunted houses in the South and have been scaring guests since 2002. The areas are both indoors and outdoors which are regularly switched out. They opened a second attraction in 2011 and doubled their size with hundreds of zombie filled crypts and their incredible attention to detail.