Tricks, treats on Halloween
October 25, 2012
Reader Lancelot Evenson wants this week’s column to be dedicated to Halloween, touching on the history of the holiday.
Thank you for the suggestion, Lancelot. I agree that this time of year begs for this topic.
Oct. 31 is a fun day for many people in the United States, and definitely in River Falls. For me it is an opportunity to be perpetually star struck.
When I go out and see all of the costumes, I’m more excited than a kid on Christmas. Although, it should be noted that I’m more excited on Christmas than anyone who has ever lived, ever.
Halloween gives us all the chance to meet any celebrity or character we adore and overdose on chocolaty sugary goodness. What more could a holiday have? Well, history, for one. And Halloween certainly has that.
The earliest related activity to trick-or-treating began, according to trueghosttales.com, with the Catholic Church during the dark ages when it approved “souling.” Souling was an event that allowed beggars to ask for food in exchange for prayers. The prayers would increase the chance of a dead person’s spirit being allowed into heaven. Trading oats for eternal happiness? Sounds like a bargain to me.
A festival – which I can only describe as “Where’s Waldo” meets Casper’s evil twin – was celebrated by the Celts 2,000 years ago. According to tlc.howstuffworks.com, the ancient Celtic clans of Britain celebrated a festival known as Samhain on Nov. 1.
They believed that the dead came home to visit the night before Samhain and so they would dress up in disguises in the hopes the ghosts would not recognize them.
Costuming in the United States has only been around for about 70 years.
According to timeanddate.com, “The commercialization of Halloween started in the 1900s, when postcards and die-cut paper decorations were produced.” Costumes began being sold in the 30s and trick-or-treating began in the 50s. Commercialization is what has driven this holiday to the popularity it has today.
But Halloween isn’t about trick-or-treating for everyone. For Jennifer Asare, mother to McKenna, trick-or-treating isn’t allowed in her household. Asare feels that telling her 3-year-old daughter not to take candy from strangers and then taking her out to collect candy from strangers is misleading. Asare and her daughter celebrate the holiday by dressing up, but do not travel door-to-door as many others do.
Poisoning is a concern for many parents. The scare of candy-tampering began in the 70s and, according to recipes.howstuffworks.com, the scare reached an all-time high in 1982.
Tylenol was laced with cyanide, killing seven people in Chicago during this time and people began worrying candy would be tampered with too. Many communities banned trick-or-treating all together and today many parents have their children’s candy x-rayed at a hospital or other community designated locations.
Rare incidents of poisoning that have occurred weren’t even by strangers. Ronald Clark O’Bryan poisoned his son’s and daughter’s candy with cyanide to cash in on a large insurance policy. The son died, but the daughter lived. He was convicted and was killed by lethal injection.
Although the chances of poisoning are slim to none, people remain concerned. Today parents who want to celebrate this holiday with safe candy-getting often do so at malls, churches and schools.
Edina Realty, located at 400 Second St. S. in Hudson, will be hosting their second annual Trick-or-Treat event from 3-5p.m. on Halloween. The event is free, open to the public and offers a safer alternative to treating around unfamiliar neighborhoods.
The only kind of poison I’m interested in is served best with a side of Bret Michaels, but for kids my age, free trick-or-treating is just a distant memory.
For students like me, costumes, contests, candy, and camaraderie is still something we look forward to, even if we’re dishing out the funds ourselves.
Rachel Woodman is a senior majoring in marketing communications and minoring in journalism. She loves to work hard, play hard, and use clichés! Look for her Facebook page “Rachel Responds” and email her your questions or topic ideas to QuestionsForRachel@live.com.