Candy Corn, Marshmallow Treats & Pillowcases Full of Candy!
Here’s a trivia question for those of you who love this sort of thing… Do you know where the origin of Halloween came from? Give up? Actually it was in the traditions of the Celtic people way back in circa 800 b.c. Every year near the end of the month of October, they would hold a major celebration they called “Samhain”, a festival to recognize summer coming to an end. The Celts believed devoutly that the veil between this world and the afterlife was the thinnest at this time of year. Loved ones who had died would often return, with their souls inhabiting an animal — often a black cat. To this day, black cats have remained a traditional symbol of Halloween.
Today Halloween has now become so commercialized with families going all out. Why, I have neighbors in my subdivision who do the same, if not more, elaborate outdoor decorations than even during Christmas time! With orange and black lights, cobwebs, the whole gambit. When my daughters were a lot smaller, we lived on a street where several homes were decorated as ‘haunted houses’ with ghosts, globins and all kinds of scary stuff in grand display to delight all the trick or treaters. The parents and even grandparents would even get dressed up and create a ‘virtual reality’ of sorts.
Plastic Halloween Masks & Homemade Costumes
It was a simpler time back when I went ‘trick or treating’ in the mid-60s and on. Our Halloween traditions were simple. We would go down to the nearest ‘Five & Dime’ store and each of my siblings and I would pick out our 10 cent ‘plastic’ Halloween mask. Then back at home, we would all compete to see who could come up with the most creative, craziest and spooky costume. We couldn’t afford the flimsy, colorful cutout nylon costumes that the ‘rich kids’ wore. Ours were homemade using everyday clothes! In fact, the staple costume back in the day (and I believe even now maybe) was of course the simple white bed sheet with two holes for our eyes!
And speaking of those masks… I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t breathe in those things! And whoever manufactured or thought up those plastic mask designs, obviously needed a course in human anatomy. Because MY eyes never fit those holes! With our masks and homemade costumes, we also all had the infamous ‘pillowcase’ for collecting our treats! How many of you carried a pillowcase once or twice in your younger years! Nowadays, they have professionally imprinted candy tote bags, pumpkin containers etc.
Remember when Halloween Treats were Mainly Homemade?
One of the things ‘Millennial’ children don’t have the pleasure of is getting genuine, authentic homemade baked goods as yummy Halloween treats. Unfortunately, in this day of our society, parents have a fear of their children’s Halloween candy being tampered with. This is truly sad because it takes the ‘joy’ out of receiving ‘gifts of love, effort and goodness’ from neighbors who wish to actively participate with something from their own kitchen. I’m sure most of the baby boomers reading this remember routinely getting homemade goodies every Halloween. I lived out in the country at the time (we’re talking the 60s now folks…) My Mom always had a ‘planned route’ with all the neighbors we would go to. And back then, our neighbors were just like ‘family’. And I can remember my Mom getting phone calls about a week or two before Halloween to find out how many of us ‘Jarboe kids’ were planning to be by on Halloween night. And these wonderful rural neighbor ladies would create the most abundant ‘Halloween Treats’ imagineable!
They would literally take a ‘count’ of all the neighborhood kids who would be coming and then throw in a few extra for the unexpected teenager who always happened to want some too… Then the magic began in their kitchens! We’re talking homemade carmalized apples with pop-cycle sticks in the middle… homemade cupcakes iced with spooky creatures… rice krispie bars with candy corn… and neatly tied plastic bags with assorted candies tied with orange ribbon. They would greet us at the front door or porch and we each got our own ‘individual’ packaged treats. Definitely those were the days of having fun, fun, fun on Halloween!
Traditional Halloween Pumpkin vs Award-Winning Carved Pumpkin & Plain ‘Ole Pumpkin Pie!
I can’t forget the wonderful traditionally carved pumpkin that everyone had displayed at the front of the house. Kids knew they were welcome by seeing this lighted, friendly pumpkin. Some of the best times would be going to a ‘pumpkin patch’. Of course you had to pick the orangiest (is that a word? lol) and the biggest you could find. And being a good sport my Mother always was, she let us do just that BUT ONLY ONE could we get. Then, secretly she would choose a much smaller pumpkin and put it aside.
Today, pumpkin carving has become an art form! Here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, as well across all major urban areas of the United States, there are elaborate contests to see who can display the best carving skills. Every year, it seems the winner outdoes the year before in the creativeness of their craft. Not us Jarboe kids, we would just take a dull kitchen knife. Cut off the top, pull out the gooey sticky stuff in the middle and take turns with one cutting one eye, the other eye, the nose, the mouth with the teeth! We may not have won any awards, but our pumpkin was definitely the most deformed one in the county!
Remember I mentioned that my Mother always would secretly stash a smaller pumpkin she had gotten from the pumpkin patch! Well, after a night out of trick and treating, my brothers and sisters would always come home, tired and cranky and while sitting around in the living room, she was taking out a warm homemade pumpkin pie out of the oven! She knew that the best tasting pumpkin pie came not from the biggest pumpkin in the patch, but of the smallest! And that was the best Halloween tradition ever! Whipped cream and all!
Have your ‘best day ever’ folks and don’t forget to visit your neighborhood pumpkin patch!