Happy Halloween! Additionally, Thank God Its Monday and, as such, #HappyMonday, too. I look forward to Mondays because they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!
Centuries ago, “happy” was never said in conjunction with “Halloween”. It was a day (or, rather, a night) to be feared, as many believed that this was when the borders between the realms of the living and the dead were opened to evil spirits.
Last year, I wrote about some of Halloween’s origins in my blog post, Americanized Halloween, and how it has changed, over the centuries; especially in America, going from a spiritual night to fear, into a non-religious, fright-embracing, candy-begging week/month-long event to market and celebrate it – American-style.
Halloween has come a long way from its origin, a couple thousand years ago; when it was a Celtic pagan ritual, with bonfires and costumes to welcome in the harvest and ward off evils spirits. The most prevalent change for observing Halloween in America started in the 1800s, with the influx of Irish immigrants that came here.
Popularity grew for celebrating the day with community parties and neighborhood gatherings for families and celebrators of all ages. Of course, retail marketing jumped on board to make it a fun (and profitable) celebration, with companies making and selling candy, costumes, decorations, and more. Even Hollywood cashed in on the new spirit of Halloween.
Communities and local media sources encouraged families to take the scariness out of what was once known as “All Hallows Eve” – or recreate it into a “fun fright”. The Americanized holiday that millions of people came to celebrate, focused more on fun activities and treats for kids and adults, alike; while still having bonfires and costumes – not to ward off evil spirits but, rather, to strengthen community ties.
By the 20th century, parades, pumpkin festivals, pumpkin-carving events, and neighborhood “trick-or-treating” were also incorporated into the mix of fun, celebratory activities for Halloween. [To learn more about the origins of Halloween and how it came to be what we celebrate now, check out History.com.]
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
No Laughing Matter, a syndicated column by Gloria Pitzer (no date on reprint)
[Originally printed in her syndicated Food For Thought column, circa 1969]
HALLOWEEN TRICK IS FINDING WEIRD ATTIRE
EVERY YEAR, I KEEP hoping somebody will do something about Halloween costumes. Shopping for really weird costumes poses a problem when we are still offered the same monotonous choices we were given back in the Neo-Saddle-Shoe days of [my] own tarnished youth.
Somehow, I’ll locate those boxes in the attic that contain all the rain-soaked, Donald Duck outfits, Bozo suits, Frankenstein masks with missing elastics, and the gypsy attires. And if I do, I’ll be able to clothe an entire hippie colony for at least a year.
Somewhere, I also have a box of threadbare pillowcases stained with licorice and lipstick that didn’t wash out. However, if I’m lucky, I won’t have to give our 12-year-old a bag this year because he says he’s ‘going to eat the stuff right on the spot!’ And, if it’s an especially good year, he promises to save me all the chocolate Easter bunnies he gets. Mike told me not to worry about getting his sister a mask, ‘since Debi doesn’t need one!’
I’ve decided their father can take them trick-or-treating this year! I’m still quite hurt from the tactless comment made by the neighbor at the end of the block, who offered me the candy corn last year because he thought I had a sensational costume. Trouble was, I wasn’t wearing one! I looked like an accident, going somewhere to happen!
‘That’s my mom!’ Mike told the man. ‘But if you think she looks scary now, you should see her in the morning!’
That kid is going to get underwear for Christmas! In fact, a few more comments like that may turn me against honesty, altogether.
Actually, some of the costumes the kids have dreamed up, themselves, have shown more ingenuity than the manufacturers who produce kids’ costumes that are somehow programmed to self-destruct before a mother can find a safety pin to fasten the neck opening.
You’d think, for $2.98, they would at least put gripper snaps or zippers or supply you with their safety pins on those skimpy outfits. Do they care that a mother cannot locate a safety pin when she needs one, without summoning the aid of Mannix and Mr. Keane, Tracer of Lost Persons?
Trying to find safety pins for Halloween costumes in October is as likely as finding D batteries for Christmas toys in December!
Naturally, all my good suggestions went out the window, so the kids tried to put their own costumes together and I’m supposed to act surprised, when they come calling at our house Halloween night. Now, maybe I won’t be able to recognize my offspring, but one thing’s for sure… I can certainly identify my sheets!
Or, if you’ll excuse the pun – they don’t have a ghost of a chance of fooling me!
When I was growing up, in Algonac, in the 1970s, I remember having fun with my family going to the annual Halloween parties at our local Lions Club, where Dad was a member for at least a decade. They’d have costume contests for adults and children, a bonfire, arts and crafts activities, family “hayrides”, carnival-like games (such as bobbing-for-apples), music and dancing.
There was also a big bring-a-dish-to-pass smorgasbord of wonderful food and treats. Did you know that food is the most common denominator in almost every observance or celebration – in any country – regardless of culture or religion?
Mom usually made our costumes until we were big enough to create our own. I can remember various years, dressing up as a ghost, witch, black cat, scarecrow, hobo, Raggedy Ann, and an angel. I also remember making popcorn ball treats, with Mom, to take to school for Halloween parties. (See recipe in “Last Thoughts”, below.)
MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
Food For Thought, a syndicated column by Gloria Pitzer [circa 1973]
EVERYDAY IS HALLOWEEN AROUND HERE!
WHERE WE LIVE, in ‘Halloween Heights’, trick-or-treat is nothing to get excited about. I mean, explaining mischief to the kids in this neighborhood is like trying to explain sex to Dr. Reuben. With the kids on our block, Halloween is a way of life; religiously observed on any day that has the letter ‘Y’ in it!
Last year, we rushed out and bought 100 pieces of penny candy. A lot of good that did! The first kid who rang our doorbell wanted to borrow a cup of bullets. The year before that, nobody rang the doorbell… Somebody had stolen it.
And to think that when we first moved into this neighborhood, from the ‘big city’ 8 years ago; things were so dull all we had to look forward to was our dentist appointments. We couldn’t wait until some families moved in, with children for ours to play with.
Imagine our surprise when we got our wish but learned that those kids gave incentive lectures to pickpockets. They carry their BB guns around in violin cases. Even their sweatshirts are inscribed with slogans like ‘Boris Karloff is a SISSY!’ ‘The mafia wants to join you!’ And… ‘Do unto others before they do it unto you!’
Halloween to these kids is about as exciting as Girl Scout Thinking Day is to the Godfather. They don’t have time to fool around with child’s play. At least, not until they’ve finished putting up all of their signs, reading: ‘KEEP ON THE GRASS!’
I don’t understand them at all. Halloween used to be a marvelous time for masquerading and mischief when our parents would take us to the Five-and-Dime to select a costume and warn us not to fall for the first ugly face we see.
The kind of costumes we used to wear for trick-or-treat would completely turn off today’s kids. After all, they dress that way for school every day. There was always something so wonderfully scary about when we were kids. The kids in this neighborhood aren’t scared by anything.
They aren’t afraid of their parents. They aren’t afraid of the police. They’d probably run Godzilla out of town if they had the chance! For the kids in this neighborhood, doing a good deed is making a contribution in your name to local crime statistics.
Be careful! If one of them ever asks you for the time, it means they want your watch! Listen! Because of the kids in this neighborhood, my Avon lady sends me my order BY MAIL!
Remember how kids used to swallow goldfish as a teenage prank? Well, around here the kids swallow piranhas! Fortunately, though, they haven’t bothered me much. Somebody told them the syndicate has a contract on me – and they didn’t realize that it meant my column was being carried in newspapers across the country.
It wouldn’t do any good to pass out candy to these kids, this Halloween. By the time they ring the bell, we look through the peephole, unfasten the lock, slide back the bolt, unhook the chain, leash-up the German shepherd, disconnect the burglar alarm, and open the door – it would be Thanksgiving!
In honor of this being Halloween AND the last day of National Popcorn Poppin’ Month, here’s Mom’s secret recipe for the Popcorn Balls we used to make, together. The recipe was printed in her self-published cookbook, Top Secret Recipes a la Carte (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Sept. 1979, p. 38).
In just over a few weeks, what’ll feel like the blink of an eye, Thanksgiving will be here. Equally as quick, the hustle and bustle of all the December holidays will follow soon after and then the new year will be upon us! 2023 is only 62 days away. Wow! Try not to blink or you might miss it!
In honor of TODAY, being the last day of National Caramel Month, here’s four of Mom’s copycat recipes for Hot, Sundae Toppings Like Sanders’; including Caramel, Bittersweet [Chocolate], Butterscotch, and Fudge. These are from her “Original 200” collection, as seen in her self-published cookbook, The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; June 1997, p. 36).
P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…
Tomorrow, as the start of November, observes (among other things)… Banana Pudding Lovers Month, Family Stories Month, National Diabetes Month, National Fun with Fondue Month, National Gratitude Month, National Inspirational Role Models Month, National Life Writing Month, National Native American Heritage Month, National Novel Writing Month, National Peanut Butter Lovers Month, National Pepper Month, National Pomegranate Month, National Raisin Bread Month, National Roasting Month, National Spinach and Squash Month, National Sweet Potato Awareness Month (also in February), and National Vegan Month!
Tomorrow is also… National Authors’ Day, National Calzone Day, National Cinnamon Day, National Deep Fried Clams Day, National Cook For Your Pets Day, and National Vinegar Day! Plus, it’s the start of… National Fig Week, which is always November 1st-7th!
…44 down and 8 to go!