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Halloween Costumes on Parade!

Happy Halloween and thanks to everyone who sent in their fantastic costume ideas for our parade! Our grand marshal is Molly, who tragically didn't get any snaps of the Best Get-Up of All Time but submitted it anyway:

Once, my friend and I wore green shorts and tank tops, covered ourselves in tin foil, painted our faces green, fixed our hair all nasty and then put masking tape labels that said march 1999 on the foil "“ we were leftovers! We won a contest, too"¦

Molly, you just won another one; send us your contact info.

Below are three other written ideas we love, interspersed with some great photos, including two women's very different takes on red capes and one awesome jack-o'-lantern.

You do have to be around people you know for this one, and do a whole bunch of pre-work (i.e., losing a whole bunch of weight). I had lost 90 pounds and for the Halloween party that year, decided to paint myself black from head to toe. Hair, face, teeth, hands (including fingernails, arms, legs, everything"¦. the whites of my eyes were the only non black body parts on me). I went to the party as "A SHADOW OF MY FORMER SELF." Fun and easy"¦.

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Some medical student friends of mine once came to a Halloween party dressed fairly strange. One had camo pants and combat boots with a plain white t-shirt. The other had jeans, sneakers, a camo jacket and camo boonie hat. We couldn't figure out what they were, and everyone let out a huge groan when they said "We're an upper and lower GI."

download-5.jpegI have to say that my all-time favorite costume was when I went as "Inspector #8" to a party thrown by some friends a few years ago. I don't think there are any photos (sadly!) but the costume was complete down to the ill-fitting pants, bad shirt, glasses, pocket protector (full of gadgets), magnifying glass and rubber stamp. I inspected pretty much anything I wanted to and left my mark if it was approved. My second favorite costume was when I teamed up with a friend and we were a clothesline. We had to stand about 8' apart the entire evening, which was bad for when one needed to use the facilities, but good because it kept us talking to new people.

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Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
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Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

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What Are the 12 Days of Christmas?
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Everyone knows to expect a partridge in a pear tree from your true love on the first day of Christmas ... But when is the first day of Christmas?

You'd think that the 12 days of Christmas would lead up to the big day—that's how countdowns work, as any year-end list would illustrate—but in Western Christianity, "Christmas" actually begins on December 25th and ends on January 5th. According to liturgy, the 12 days signify the time in between the birth of Christ and the night before Epiphany, which is the day the Magi visited bearing gifts. This is also called "Twelfth Night." (Epiphany is marked in most Western Christian traditions as happening on January 6th, and in some countries, the 12 days begin on December 26th.)

As for the ubiquitous song, it is said to be French in origin and was first printed in England in 1780. Rumors spread that it was a coded guide for Catholics who had to study their faith in secret in 16th-century England when Catholicism was against the law. According to the Christian Resource Institute, the legend is that "The 'true love' mentioned in the song is not an earthly suitor, but refers to God Himself. The 'me' who receives the presents refers to every baptized person who is part of the Christian Faith. Each of the 'days' represents some aspect of the Christian Faith that was important for children to learn."

In debunking that story, Snopes excerpted a 1998 email that lists what each object in the song supposedly symbolizes:

2 Turtle Doves = the Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings = the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

There is pretty much no historical evidence pointing to the song's secret history, although the arguments for the legend are compelling. In all likelihood, the song's "code" was invented retroactively.

Hidden meaning or not, one thing is definitely certain: You have "The Twelve Days of Christmas" stuck in your head right now.

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