One thing I love about my job is that I have an excuse to research off-the-wall facts and topics … even if it does suck up way too much of my time. My friend and guest, Billie Brownell*, stumbled onto something interesting and got a blog post out of it!
Halloween Traditions, or How to Scare the Neighborhood Children
When I was a kid, Halloween was the one night of the year for kids to literally run wild and get (and give) some frights. We would go trick-or-treating in our neighborhood, then be driven over to my cousin’s neighborhood to trick-or-treat there. Pranks were played. Real, homemade candy apples and popcorn balls were commonplace. And the candy! I don’t remember getting much candy as a kid, other than at Halloween and maybe during Christmas. It was great.
But Halloween traditions are changing. The fear of tainted candy has understandably led many parents to abandon trick-or-treating, even in their own neighborhoods. How long will this tradition last? Until she stopped giving anything at all, my mom was handing out pencils to trick-or-treaters. Now I ask you, what kid on the planet wants a pencil? A pencil alone is enough to kill Halloween.
But people—adults and children—still like to be scared. (Why else do they make movies like 28 Days Later? It is really, really scary …) So I say let’s put the fear back into Halloween by carving turnip jack-o-lanterns instead of pumpkins. I recently researched Halloween traditions for a project, and I discovered that the Irish originally carved turnips to scare off evil spirits. Pumpkins are native to North America, and carving pumpkins is an American twist on this ancient tradition.
The difference in appearance is striking; even if pumpkins have a scary face, they still communicate a sort of joie de vivre, kind of like Maurice Chevalier. Not so the turnip! Just take a look at this photo (or this one). That turnip means business. Really, really scary, serious business. Like: I’m coming for you, little neighborhood child.
There’s still a few days to test this theory before Halloween this year. Let me know how it goes.
* Used with permission. An editor at Cool Springs Press, Billie can be found on Facebook and Twitter when she’s not scaring small children.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”