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The Quick 10: 10 Halloween Traditions

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Most of us are pretty familiar with carving pumpkins and trick-or-treating, but there are plenty of other Halloween traditions out there. Some of them are from way back when, and some are just from different parts of the world. Either way, maybe you'll find something new to add to your All Hallows Eve traditions.

1. Stingy Jack. Stingy Jack, or "Jack the Smith," is likely the story that gave us the tradition of carving pumpkins. The tale originates in Ireland, where Stingy Jack boozed his way through villages, begging and manipulating and being basically an all-around loser. The Devil heard of Jack's shenanigans and decided to put an end to it, but Jack tricked him a couple of times and eventually won the Devil's assurance that he would never take Jack to Hell. Jack eventually died, but because of his sinful earthly ways, he was denied entrance to Heaven. He tried to get into Hell instead, but of course, the Devil reminded him that this was impossible. Instead, he gave Jack an ember inside of a hollowed-out turnip and made him walk the earth forever, warning people of what could happen to them. Which leads us to another tradition"¦

2. Carving turnips and rutabagas. Here we carve pumpkins, of course, and it's catching on around the world. But before we carved pumpkins, the Irish were carving rutabagas, turnips and mangelwurzels thanks to our friend Stingy Jack. When the Irish came to the U.S., these vegetables weren't nearly as common, and so they adapted the tradition to pumpkins. If you want to try your hand at carving a turnip this year, there are instructions here. It's pretty much like carving a pumpkin, but smaller and less gooey.

postcard3. If you're dying to know who you're going to marry someday, here's an update on the apple stem twist we used to do as kids (or was that just me?). Unmarried women used to sit in a dark room on Halloween night and look into a mirror. Eventually, their husband's face would appear in it. If a skull appeared instead, the woman would surely die before she could ever get married.
4. Guising is what they call trick-or-treating in parts of Scotland and northern England. Unlike here, though, kids who go guising are expected to earn their treats with a song or a card trick, some jokes or a poem. Guising has only been confined to Halloween in relatively recent times "“ in 1815, one account said that "Gysarts" were allowed to come around every evening from Christmas to "Fasternse'en" (Shrove Tuesday).

5. Dumb Cake. This was an old tradition during Hop-tu-Naa, a Celtic festival you'd have to specifically go to the Isle of Man to celebrate. Kids trick-or-treat and carry turnip lanterns, but they also sing Hop-tu-Naa songs. And in the old days, they used to have their own fortune-telling traditions. On October 31, young women would bake Dumb Cake over the hearth, including some soot from the fire in with the ingredients. When it was ready, the cake was divided up and eaten in utter silence. Then each girl would apparently walk backward to bed and expect to see her husband-to-be in a dream. There was also a tradition of sweeping ash from the fire over the hearth. In the morning, a footprint in the ash that faced in toward the fireplace indicated a birth ahead. A footprint pointing toward the door meant that someone would die.

barmbrack6. Barmbrack is another custom from Ireland. It's a type of bread with raisins in it and can be served year "˜round, but at Halloween, certain objects are baked right into the bread: a pea, a stick, a coin, some cloth, and a ring. Each one carried significance, so if you got the piece with something in it, you would immediately know what your fortune was. The pea means you wouldn't be getting married in the next year and the ring, of course, meant that you would be. The stick meant an unhappy marriage, the cloth meant bad finances ahead, and the coin meant wealth was headed your way.

7. Coelcerth was actually observed on November 1, but that's close enough for my purposes. It was part of a tradition of Calan Gaeaf, the first day of winter in Wales. For coelcerth, a family would build a fire and write their names on stones surrounding it. If they woke up in the morning and found that a person's stone was missing, they knew that person would die in the next year. It seems to me that this would be the perfect opportunity to freak out your siblings"¦

8. Allantide is a Cornish (as in Cornwall, England) festival celebrated at the same time as Halloween. One the games commonly played worked like this: a cross, laid flat, was suspended from the ceiling, and a candle would be placed at each end. Then apples were hung from the underside of the cross. The game was for children to try to get the apples with their mouths "“ kind of like bobbing for apples in midair. If they were too slow, the candles dripped hot wax on their faces. Ummm"¦ fun?

9. Soul Cakes. In Britain, and in a similar tradition in Italy, children would go from door to door collecting "soul cakes" from neighbors. Each cake represented a soul, and every time a child ate a cake it was supposed to mean that they had freed someone from Purgatory. As a kid, I would have taken that super literally and would have been concerned about eating someone's soul.

Banana_slug_at_UCSC10. Floured Slugs. OK, one more weird wedding game for you. In 19th-century Ireland, women would sprinkle flour on a plate and then drop a slug on it. As the slug wriggled its way across the plate, it would leave a pattern in the flour that was supposed to show them what their husband was going to look like. I suppose it's kind of like reading tea leaves, but I keep picturing this moment where a women sees the love of her life for the first time from across the room, rushes over to him, takes his face in her hands and passionately cries, "I saw your face in the slug flour!"

Do you have any Halloween traditions? Do they involve baking supplies and gastropods? Do tell. I'd love to pick up a new tradition "“ our only tradition mostly involves watching scary movies for the entire month of October.
I'm out next week, so I'll "see" you guys in November "“ have a fun Halloween!

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10 Sweet Facts About Candy Canes
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The sweet and striped shepherd’s hooks can be found just about everywhere during the holiday season. It's time you learned a thing or two (or 10) about them.

1. THEY’VE BEEN AROUND SINCE THE 17TH CENTURY.

While the origins of the candy cane are a bit murky, legend has it that they first appeared in hooked form around 1670. Candy sticks themselves were pretty common, but they really took shape when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany got the bright idea of twisting them to look like shepherd’s hooks. He then handed them out to kids during church services to keep them quiet.

2. A GERMAN IMMIGRANT BROUGHT THE TRADITION TO THE STATES.

It’s no surprise, then, that it was a German immigrant who introduced the custom to America. The first reference we can find to the tradition stateside is 1847, when August Imgard of Wooster, Ohio, decked his home out with the sugary fare.

3. THEY HAVEN’T ALWAYS BEEN STRIPED.

Candy canes without the red don’t seem nearly as cheery, do they? But that’s how they were once made: all white. We’re not really sure who or exactly when the scarlet stripe was added, but we do know that images on cards before the 1900s show snow white canes.

4. THEY’RE A (RELATIVELY) VIRTUOUS HOLIDAY TREAT.

Most candy canes are around five inches long, containing only about 50 calories and no fat or cholesterol.

5. THEY DON’T ALWAYS FIT ON A CHRISTMAS TREE.

The world’s largest candy cane was built by Geneva, Illinois chef Alain Roby in 2012.  It was 51 feet long, required about 900 pounds of sugar, and was eventually smashed up with a hammer so people could take home a piece.

6. EVERYONE HAS THEIR OWN WAY OF EATING THEM.

Fifty-four percent of kids suck on candy canes, compared to the 24 percent who just go right for the big crunch. As you may have been able to guess, of those surveyed, boys were nearly twice as likely to be crunchers.

7. MORE THAN A BILLION ARE MADE EACH YEAR.

According to the National Confectioners Association, about 1.2 billion candy canes are made annually, and 90 percent of those are sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Which honestly begs the question: Who’s buying the 10 percent in the off season?

8. A PRIEST PLAYED A MAJOR ROLE IN THE CANDY’S MOVE TO MASS PRODUCTION.

Bobs (that’s right; no apostrophe) Candies was the first company to really hang its hat on the sweet, striped hook. Lt. Bob McCormack began making candy canes for his kids in the 1920s, and they were such a hit he decided to start mass-producing them. With the help of his brother-in-law, a Catholic priest named Gregory Harding Keller (and his invention, the Keller Machine), McCormack was eventually able to churn out millions of candy canes a day.

9. THEY HAVE THEIR OWN (ODDLY-TIMED) HOLIDAY.

December 26 is National Candy Cane Day. Go figure.

10. THE PROCESS FOR MAKING THEM BY HAND IS MESMERIZING.

Here’s how they make candy canes at Disneyland—it’s a painstaking (and beautiful) technique.

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MoviePilot.com
10 Actors Who Hated Their Own Films
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MoviePilot.com

1. Sylvester Stallone, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Sly doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to his film career. Despite co-starring with the delightful Estelle Getty as the titular violence-prone mother, Stallone knows just how bad the film was:

"I made some truly awful movies. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot was the worst. If you ever want someone to confess to murder, just make him or her sit through that film. They will confess to anything after 15 minutes."

2. Alec Guinness, Star Wars.

By the time he played Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope, Guinness had already appeared in cinematic classics like The Bridge on the River Kwai, Great Expectations and Lawrence of Arabia. During production, Guinness is reported to have said the following:

"Apart from the money, I regret having embarked on the film. I like them well enough, but it's not an acting job, the dialogue - which is lamentable - keeps being changed and only slightly improved, and I find myself old and out of touch with the young."

The insane amount of fame he won for the role as the wise old Jedi master took him somewhat by surprise and, ultimately, annoyed him. In his autobiography A Positively Final Appearance: A Journal, Guinness recalls a time he encountered an autograph-seeking fan who boasted to him about having watched Star Wars more than 100 times. In response, Guinness agreed to provide the boy an autograph under the condition that he promise never to watch the film again.

3. Bob Hoskins, Super Mario Brothers. He was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. As far as I’m concerned, Bob Hoskins is forgiven for Super Mario Bros. Hoskins, though, doesn’t seem to be able to forgive himself. Last year the Guardian spoke with the veteran actor about his career and he summed up his feelings rather succinctly:

What is the worst job you've done?
Super Mario Brothers.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
Super Mario Brothers.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I wouldn't do Super Mario Brothers.

4. George Clooney, Batman & Robin. Sure, Batman & Robin made money. But by every other imaginable measure, the film was a complete failure, and a nightmare to the vast majority of the Caped Crusader’s most fervent fanatics. Star George Clooney recognized what a stinker he helped create and once plainly stated, “I think we might have killed the franchise.”

5. David Cross, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. When actors have a movie out, it's customary that they publicize the film by saying nice things about it. Earlier this year David Cross took a different approach. When it came to describing his new film Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, the veteran comedian — better known for Mr. Show and Arrested Development — went on Conan and called the film a “big commercial for Carnival Cruise Lines” and told people not to go see it.

6. Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up. Judd Apatow’s unplanned pregnancy comedy was a huge hit and helped cement her status as a bankable film actress. After the film’s release, however, Heigl didn’t have all good things to say. In fact, what she specifically said about it was that the film was:

"…A little sexist. It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys.”

7. Charlize Theron, Reindeer Games. The 2000 action film Reindeer Games starred Ben Affleck, Gary Sinese and Charlize Theron and was directed by John Frankenheimer. But it all somehow failed to come together. In the end the film lost a lot of money and compiled a wealth of negative reviews – including one from its star actress who simply said, “Reindeer Games was not a good movie.”

8. Mark Wahlberg, The Happening. Mark Wahlberg doesn’t exactly seem like a guy who lives his life afraid of trees. But that is the odd position M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 film The Happening put him in. Wahlberg, as it turns out, doesn’t look back too fondly on the film. He went on record during a press conference for The Fighter when he described a conversation with a fellow actor:

"We had actually had the luxury of having lunch before to talk about another movie and it was a bad movie that I did. She dodged the bullet. And then I was still able to … I don’t want to tell you what movie … alright “The Happening.” F*** it. It is what it is. F***ing trees, man. The plants. F*** it. You can’t blame me for not wanting to try to play a science teacher. At least I wasn’t playing a cop or a crook."

9. John Cusack, Better Off Dead. John Cusack reportedly hated his cult 80s comedy so much that he walked out of the screening and later told the film’s director Steve Holland that Better Off Dead was "the worst thing I have ever seen" and he would "never trust you as a director again."

10 Christopher Plummer, The Sound of Music. The Sound of Music is considered a classic and has delighted many generations of fans. But the film's own lead actor, Christopher Plummer, didn't always sing its praises. Mr. Von Trapp himself declined to participate in a 2005 film reunion and, according to one acquaintance, has referred to the film as The Sound of Mucus.

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