Our Readers' Favorite Halloween Costumes

All fall, you guys have been filling up our inbox with your best Halloween photos. Get in the holiday spirit by looking at some of our favorite submissions. Apologies for all the pagination—we don't typically do that, but we also don't typically stick 60 photos in a post. Enjoy!

Olivia sent in this picture of herself dressed as a ninja. No word on the identity or whereabouts of the hostage beside her.


Brian, Abby & Hannah Segool, circa 1993. (From Abby: "My parents started me on the road to nerd-dom early in life.")


Marion Germaine sent in this photo of her daughter as a cute little polar bear. A cute little polar bear feasting on the flesh of a bloody severed leg.


Here's one from the 1970s. Scarlett Messenger is dressed as a bat, and her shirt reads "DING" in big red letters. "Yes, I went to school dressed as a Ding Bat. I don't think the scars have healed yet."


Elizabeth-Anne Cobb sets the bar pretty high for people who make their costume out of a box each year.


We've all seen Harry Potter, Severus Snape and Cho Chang costumes, but Angela Kerchner's family waded deeper into the canon—here's her husband and daughter as Xenophilis and Luna Lovegood.


Angela's other daughter played a convincing Moaning Myrtle.


The rules for Christopher Schwarz's costumes are as follows: "1) A good amount of people must know who I am right away. 2) When I go to Halloween parties, no one else should be dressed the same way." (You'll hear from him again.)


Jade Thompson and her boyfriend cleaned up at costume contests last year.


Nathan Jackson as...Nathan Jackson! (Apologies to the rest of you who submitted photos of your Nathan Jackson costumes. Only had room for one.)


Anneke Majors has pulled off both Frida Kahlo and a jellyfish.


Anneke also sent in this photo of her friend Abby as Tippi Hedren (from The Birds).


Jake Meek said his Bob Ross attire was purchased in the ladies department at a local thrift store, "which I can only assume is where all men's clothing from the '70s currently resides." He's posing with the Orbit Gum Lady. Advertising characters are always a popular choice. Let's run through a bunch of mascots...


Here are the same two, this time as The Hamburgler and the woman on the Sunmaid Raisins box.


One of my favorites—Allison Brooks as Toucan Sam!


Tricia Williamson's husband creeped people out as The King. ("He went around all night offering a burger to people and showing up in the window. 4 years later people are still talking about it.")


Not sure why, but I was very happy to see someone dressed as Colonel Sanders. Well played, Liz Somes.


Patrick & Amanda McCullough as Mr. Clean & Mrs. Dirty.


Here's Christopher Schwarz again, this time as The Hamburgler.


Megan as the Travelocity Roaming Gnome, along with a salt shaker (Mariah) and a "cereal killer" (Anna Frick -- "that's why cereal is glued to my shirt and spoons are attached to my gloves.")

Who wants to see some superheros and villains?


Lots of superhero costumes. Rebekah Davies sent in this photo of her co-worker Michael as Captain America. ("He made it from scratch, including sewing the shield from individual pleather tiles he cut out...hundreds of them.")


Heidi Hurst is Highlighter Girl! (Superpower: "I brighten your day!")


Melissa Shumate as Wonder Woman (with a Burger King crown for good measure).


Rachel Moore as Doctor Horrible!


Christopher Schwarz makes his third and final appearance on our list, this time as Two-Face.


It's Optimus Vance Rutherford!


Nathan Stewart gives away his how-to-be-Pinhead-from-Hellraiser secret: "I used liquid latex to cover my entire head, then painted toothpicks silver for the nails. A little dab of latex on the end of the toothpicks and they stuck without any problems. I even made my own Lament Configuration out of a block of wood."


Is the Tooth Fairy a hero? Kevin Kroll put an intimidating spin on the role.


Kerry Ruscitti and her husband went the American Gothic route.


I'm sure Joanne Christensen's kids are thrilled she sent in this photo from Halloween '98.


Regina Ruopoli and her elaborate, hand-made peacock costume.


Dressed as Super Princess Peach, Stefa Nunes ran into a couple of Mario Brothers.


Gino and his boyfriend pulled off a convincing Mario & Luigi, too.


Last year, Chelsea Glaze and her boyfriend "decided to be vikings because vikings are just awesome."


Not as many political costumes as I expected. Here are Melanie and Sarah as Bristol and Sarah Palin.


Linda McGee as "What the Well-Dressed Lady in Pacolet (SC) Is Wearing This Year."


Connor in CA bounced from house to house as Tigger.


Missa Haas says her cat, Sunny, is wild about Halloween. Sunny is also terrifying.


Laura Gryder sent in this star-powered photo: Peg Bundy, Nathan Explosion of Dethklok, and Richard Simmons.


Keegan Greenier explains: "Pillow stuffed in front. Black tights. Giant, yellow-rimmed sunglasses. Long live the '80s."


From Laurier Nicas: "I really loved Waldo growing up. Proof? Halloween 1991, Age 6. What this photo doesn't prove is that I am actually a girl."


Said Dominique Grant of her Waldo: "This was the best costume for getting in the background of other people's pictures."


Cindy Allen sent us these photos of her son as Legolas from The Lord of the Rings.


While they're not in costume, I had to include this photo of Ed and Heidi. I can respect a gourd hat that requires wiring.


Nicole Nasuti as Prison Martha, from 2004.


Alexzandra & Ashley Rico as a bunch of grapes and someone riding a pony-on-a-stick.


Ashley went all out in her portrayal of Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas.


The pride of Burbank, Ky Matthes went as Carol Burnett's character from her show's "Went With the Wind" skit.


Our first zombie, Carol Galloway.


We haven't met one of our neighbors down the street, and will be using Halloween as an excuse to pop in and say hello. Here's hoping they're dressed up like Robert & Julie Ashe when they open the door.


Another great one—here are Melissa Shumate and her sister Al rocking homemade Care Bears costumes.

Let's wrap this up with a few photos of various mental_floss staffers...

Staff Photos


Last year, Paul & Stacy Conradt got all dolled up as Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett. Wonder what she's planning this year?


And here's Stacy from yesteryear.


Miss Cellania as a rock and roll witch; Andréa Fernandes as a really scary clown.


Scott Allen as the DC Metro.


On the right, Brett Savage as Robin. On the left, Jason Plautz as...well, I'm not sure. I don't think it's actually from Halloween, but I really love that pic. I may go as that next year.


The Higgins Brothers, circa 1981. Mike as The Lone Ranger; Chris as a kitty cat.


Also from Halloween '81: my wife and I pay tribute to our favorite Sesame Street characters. Our 15-month-old daughter will follow in our footsteps tomorrow when she steps into an Elmo costume. She loves Elmo in books and as a doll, but I'm not certain she actually wants to be Elmo. This could get interesting.

Happy Halloween, everybody! Hope it's a memorable one. Take some good pics for next year's round-up.

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Where Did The Easter Bunny Come From?
Getty Images
Getty Images

The Easter Bunny is an anthropomorphic, egg-laying rabbit who sneaks into homes the night before Easter to deliver baskets full of colored eggs, toys and chocolate. A wise man once told me that all religions are beautiful and all religions are wacko, but even if you allow for miracles, angels, and pancake Jesus, the Easter Bunny really comes out of left field.

If you go way back, though, the Easter Bunny starts to make a little sense. Spring is the season of rebirth and renewal. Plants return to life after winter dormancy and many animals mate and procreate. Many pagan cultures held spring festivals to celebrate this renewal of life and promote fertility. One of these festivals was in honor of Eostre or Eastre, the goddess of dawn, spring and fertility near and dear to the hearts of the pagans in Northern Europe. Eostre was closely linked to the hare and the egg, both symbols of fertility.

As Christianity spread, it was common for missionaries to practice some good salesmanship by placing pagan ideas and rituals within the context of the Christian faith and turning pagan festivals into Christian holidays (e.g. Christmas). The Eostre festival occurred around the same time as the Christians' celebration of Christ's resurrection, so the two celebrations became one, and with the kind of blending that was going on among the cultures, it would seem only natural that the pagans would bring the hare and egg images with them into their new faith (the hare later became the more common rabbit).

The pagans hung on to the rabbit and eventually it became a part of Christian celebration. We don't know exactly when, but it's first mentioned in German writings from the 1600s. The Germans converted the pagan rabbit image into Oschter Haws, a rabbit that was believed to lay a nest of colored eggs as gifts for good children. (A poll of my Twitter followers reveals that 81% of the people who replied believe the Easter Bunny to be male, based mostly on depictions where it's wearing a bowtie. The male pregnancy and egg-laying mammal aspects are either side effects of trying to lump the rabbit and egg symbols together, or rabbits were just more awesome back then.)

Oschter Haws came to America with Pennsylvania Dutch settlers in the 1700s, and evolved into the Easter Bunny as it became entrenched in American culture. Over time the bunny started bringing chocolate and toys in addition to eggs (the chocolate rabbit began with the Germans, too, when they started making Oschter Haws pastries in the 1800s).


The Easter Bunny also went with European settlers to Australia—as did actual bunnies. These rabbits, fertile as they are, got a little out of control, so the Aussies regard them as serious pests. The destruction they've caused to habitats is responsible for the major decline of some native animals and causes millions of dollars worth of damage to crops. It is, perhaps, not a great idea to use an invasive species as a symbol for a religious holiday, so Australia has been pushing the Easter Bilby (above, on the right), an endangered marsupial that kind of looks like a bunny if you squint. According to some of our Australian readers, the Easter Bunny is not in danger of going extinct.

Gregor Smith, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The Men Behind Your Favorite Liquors
Gregor Smith, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Gregor Smith, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

It's hard to walk down the aisle of a liquor store without running across a bottle bearing someone's name. We put them in our cocktails, but how well do we know them? Here's some biographical detail on the men behind your favorite tipples.

1. Captain Morgan

FromSandToGlass, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

The Captain wasn't always just the choice of sorority girls looking to blend spiced rum with Diet Coke; in the 17th century he was a feared privateer. Not only did the Welsh pirate marry his own cousin, he ran risky missions for the governor of Jamaica, including capturing some Spanish prisoners in Cuba and sacking Port-au-Prince in Haiti. He then plundered the Cuban coast before holding for ransom the entire city of Portobelo, Panama. He later looted and burned Panama City, but his pillaging career came to an end when Spain and England signed a peace treaty in 1671. Instead of getting in trouble for his high-seas antics, Morgan received knighthood and became the lieutenant governor of Jamaica.

2. Johnnie Walker

Kevin Chang, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Walker, the name behind the world's most popular brand of Scotch whisky, was born in 1805 in Ayrshire, Scotland. When his father died in 1819, Johnnie inherited a trust of a little over 400 pounds, which the trustees invested in a grocery store. Walker grew to become a very successful grocer in the town of Kilmarnock and even sold a whisky, Walker's Kilmarnock Whisky. Johnnie's son Alexander was the one who actually turned the family into famous whisky men, though. Alexander had spent time in Glasgow learning how to blend teas, but he eventually returned to Kilmarnock to take over the grocery from his father. Alexander turned his blending expertise to whisky, and came up with "Old Highland Whisky," which later became Johnnie Walker Black Label.

3. Jack Daniel

LeeRoyal, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Jasper Newton "Jack" Daniel of Tennessee whiskey fame was the descendant of Welsh settlers who came to the United States in the early 19th century. He was born in 1846 or 1850 and was one of 13 children. By 1866 he was distilling whiskey in Lynchburg, Tennessee. Unfortunately for the distiller, he had a bit of a temper. One morning in 1911 Daniel showed up for work early and couldn't get his safe open. He flew off the handle and kicked the offending strongbox. The kick was so ferocious that Daniel injured his toe, which then became infected. The infection soon became the blood poisoning that killed the whiskey mogul.

Curious about why your bottle of J.D. also has Lem Motlow listed as the distillery's proprietor? Daniel's own busy life of distilling and safe-kicking kept him from ever finding a wife and siring an heir, so in 1907 he gave the distillery to his beloved nephew Lem Motlow, who had come to work for him as a bookkeeper.

4. Jose Cuervo

Shane R, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In 1758, Jose Antonio de Cuervo received a land grant from the King of Spain to start an agave farm in the Jalisco region of Mexico. Jose used his agave plants to make mescal, a popular Mexican liquor. In 1795, King Carlos IV gave the land grant to Cuervo's descendant Jose Maria Guadalupe de Cuervo. Carlos IV also granted the Cuervo family the first license to commercially make tequila, so they built a larger factory on the existing land. The family started packaging their wares in individual bottles in 1880, and in 1900 the booze started going by the brand name Jose Cuervo. The brand is still under the leadership of the original Jose Cuervo's family; current boss Juan-Domingo Beckmann is the sixth generation of Cuervo ancestors to run the company.

5. Jim Beam

Jim Beam, the namesake of the world's best-selling bourbon whiskey, didn't actually start the distillery that now bears his name. His great-grandfather Jacob Beam opened the distillery in 1788 and started selling his first barrels of whiskey in 1795. In those days, the whiskey went by the less-catchy moniker of "Old Tub." Jacob Beam handed down the distillery to his son David Beam, who in turn passed it along to his son David M. Beam, who eventually handed the operation off to his son, Colonel James Beauregard Beam, in 1894. Although he was only 30 years old when he took over the family business, Jim Beam ran the distillery until Prohibition shut him down. Following repeal in 1933, Jim quickly built a distillery and began resurrecting the Old Tub brand, but he also added something new to the company's portfolio: a bourbon simply called Jim Beam.

6. Tanqueray

Adrian Scottow, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

When he was a young boy, Charles Tanqueray's path through life seemed pretty clear. He was the product of three straight generations of Bedfordshire clergymen, so it must have seemed natural to assume that he would take up the cloth himself. Wrong. Instead, he started distilling gin in 1830 in a little plant in London's Bloomsbury district. By 1847, he was shipping his gin to colonies around the British Empire, where many plantation owners and troops had developed a taste for Tanqueray and tonic.

7. Campari

Michael, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Gaspare Campari found his calling quickly. By the time he was 14, he had risen to become a master drink mixer in Turin, and in this capacity he started dabbling with a recipe for an aperitif. When he eventually settled on the perfect mixture, his concoction had over 60 ingredients. In 1860, he founded Gruppo Campari to make his trademark bitters in Milan. Like Colonel Sanders' spice blend, the recipe for Campari is a closely guarded secret supposedly known by only the acting Gruppo Campari chairman, who works with a tiny group of employees to make the concentrate with which alcohol and water are infused to get Campari. The drink is still made from Gaspare Campari's recipe, though, which includes quinine, orange peel, rhubarb, and countless other flavorings.


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